Then & Now

Faculty, staff and students reflect on what it means to them.

The past matters. I say this as a UC San Diego alumnus, post-doc, and now faculty member. I say this having been part of the student effort to establish the Cross-Cultural Center in 1992, having been inspired by the student activists of 2010’s Black Spring, and I say this particularly as a historian—the past matters. Not just because we want to learn about it and sort out the archives to write articles or books or class papers. Building knowledge like that is only part of it. It’s also about equipping ourselves with what we need to know to make sense of the time that we live in now.

It’s important that our students understand their place in the longer story of how UCSD came to be, how it evolved and is evolving, and what their legacy within that evolution can, will, or should be. Knowing about the past allows us to make sense of the present and imagine a different future, ideally in a way that will be better.”

—Luis Alvarez ’94, brings students into community partnerships to preserve, document and engage with the diverse populations of San Diego through the university’s Race and Oral History project.


“I stayed at UC San Diego because I know another world is possible—one that reflects the ideals of humanity. Our students will shape this future, just as we did, and I want to follow in the footsteps of all those who encouraged our growth, development, analysis and audacity to create equity.”

—Fnann Keflezighi ’11 was president of the Black Student Union during the student activism of 2010, and is now president of the Black Alumni Council and assistant director of residential life for Marshall College.


From our Triton student writers:

Lara Sanli ’21

Because we’re such a young university, I always thought we lacked the robust history of other colleges across the country. I had also assumed, like many do, that the STEM-minded nature of our school has created a culture without a place for social or political activism. But working on this issue has uncovered the complexity and depth of that history —how students of many generations genuinely felt for the world and its problems, and believed they could change it for the better.

Today’s students know little about the depth and breadth of activism at UC San Diego. I assume this is partially because activism in our generation takes a different form than what came before us: We’re most active online, tweeting or sharing hashtags. It’s not that our generation doesn’t care, but the technological component of protest has paradoxically both attached us and detached us from the issues at large. But now when I walk to class, I think back to people like Angela Davis and Herbert Marcuse, I think about the places where students have made a stand: Revelle Plaza, Library Walk, even I-5. At times, it’s hard to believe so much has happened at my school—at our school.

We live during one of the most interesting periods of time America has ever seen, and it’s remarkable to think that our campus and our graduates have created such monumental shifts in culture. At times during this issue I caught myself wondering, “Who will all this history inspire next?” Only to realize the answer—me.

—Lara Sanli ’21


Savannah Munoz ’20

In community college I heard stories about UC activism—I watched documentaries about hunger strikes at Berkeley and saw old photos of protests at UCLA, and I even heard about current rallies and strikes on social media. UC San Diego seemed mysteriously missing from the larger UC narrative.

And yet, we had a part here as well: students protested the Vietnam War, they fought for a say in the creation of Third College, and recently, they were determined to keep the Che Café open. As I became more familiar with our history, I’m left with this question:  What will be the future for UC San Diego?

I recently read an article pointing out how new students are entering an institution that provides more resources and regularly responds to many student requests. In Price Center, footwashing sinks for Muslim students were installed, and multi-stall gender-neutral bathrooms will o

en later this year. Last year, UC San Diego even adopted the gender-inclusive term “Chicanx/Latinx” in university programming.

As we make more change than ever, I wonder how we can continue the community building that was started all those years ago. Students need to know the alumni who put themselves on the line to make a difference in the past. They are out there—many still devoted to the causes and ideals they hold dear. We could stand to take a greater interest and commitment in engaging with each other, and maybe rather than look to other UC campus histories, we could look at our own.”

—Savannah Munoz ’20

What does it mean to you? Tell us at