Over a month after protesters encircled Welsh field in support of Upward Bound, dozens of students and community leaders lined the sidewalks and lawn in front of the School of Education last Monday afternoon. The second demonstration rallied against USF’s decision to no longer host the federally-funded college preparatory program because of an acute shortage of campus facilities.
Upward Bound, which traces back to the administration of Lyndon Johnson, operates nationwide. The program prepares underprivileged high school youth for a post-secondary education.
Upward Bound chapters supporting local high-school students are housed on college campuses, making use of its host institution’s classrooms and dormitories.
The program has existed at USF since 1966.
Only a handful of people sat in the pews of the First AME Zion Church by 4 o’clock. The church, situated merely one half-block east from the university’s Ulrich baseball field, is home to the congregation led by Rev. Malcolm J Byrd. Byrd is a key organizer in the movement to sustain Upward Bound at USF.
Byrd and USF Upward Bound Director Janice Cook and USF Professor Bernadette Barker-Plummer, greeted demonstrators while also reading through a letter released minutes before from the university’s Associate Vice Provost for Diversity and Community Engagement Dr. Mary Wardell.
Wardell’s message, distributed via USFconnect around 3:45 p.m. that day, listed four conditions that Upward Bound could retain USF’s sponsorship, which included “direct oversight of the program by an advisory committee…which will ensure accountability for the program’s management”, a requirement that the “program must be integrated into the life of the University”, and that “facilities must be located off the USF campus.”
Demonstrators were optimistic about the letter, but doubts remained over the ultimate future of Upward Bound at USF.
Undergraduates Hennessey Donovan and Claire Brennan attended the protest.
“I was told about [Upward Bound] in class by my American history professor, and anyone else I’ve talked to about the issue has been immediately [in support of] Upward Bound,” Brennan said.
“To be honest [though], I think Fr. Privett is going to do what he wants to do,” Donovan added, “But that doesn’t mean we should do something.”
Undergraduate student and freshman Gabriel Vancea works in the Upward Bound office as a tutor. He credits his participation in University of San Diego’s Upward Bound program for being able to attend USF. He said the future of the program was “very unpredictable,” because of the administration’s inconsistencies.
Dominique Byrd, Rev. Bryd’s wife, felt strongly about recent efforts to retain the program at USF.
“I have no idea what is going to happen,” she said. “God’s will is going to be done…but we can’t let this discussion happen without doing anything about it. We want to exhaust all our resources before the decision comes through.”
By 4:30 p.m. there were about 100 demonstrators in the church. After an opening prayer by Rev. Byrd, the group left the church in a police-escorted procession to the front of the School of Education.
The procession was joined by Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco Chapter of the NAACP and pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco.
During the one-and-a-half-block walk to the intersections of Tamaulipas and Turk, the crowd carried enlarged prints of individual Upward Bound students’ USF ID cards, and chanted “Keep around, Upward Bound.”
The demonstration also drew correspondents from the San Francisco Chronicle and KPIX 5, the local television affiliate of CBS.
Protestors distributed letters from students, alumni, and parents. Some students read aloud the letters.
Impromptu speakers included Dan Daniels, the Coastal Area director of the California NAACP Daniels is also a former student of Upward Bound.
“Growing up a poor boy in Oklahoma, I would not have had the money to attend college were it not for Upward Bound,” he said, while the Rev. Arnold Townsend, another pastor, urged perseverance, telling the protestors to not become “one-issue” people who stop demanding rights once one issue is resolved and to “become consistent in their demonstrations.”
The rally continued into its second hour, with an Upward Bound student quoting John F. Kennedy in connection to the fact that USF was a Jesuit Catholic institution.
An elderly community member said, “Stay fighting for what you need and what you want…fight until your 30’s, your 40’s, 50’s 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s.”
“I’m glad to see what the students can do,” said Dr. Bill Goring, who addressed the crod drawing from his time as the director of Upward Bound at USF in the 1970’s. “Keep up, Upward Bound.”
Certain individuals had scheduled a meeting with Dr. Wardell the following day to discuss the possibility of continuing the program with USF support.
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