New UCSD racial incident sparks rage, confrontation
An update on the previous UCSD post I did last week.
Minority students at the University of California San Diego declared a racial state of emergency yesterday, presenting administrators with a list of 32 demands — many of which the school accepted on the spot.
Students, already upset by an off-campus party Monday that mocked Black History Month, reacted with tears, outrage and a march across campus after a second racially charged episode.
In the latest incident, members of an irreverent student organization aired a live segment on closed-circuit television Thursday night supporting the party.
Campus officials have been unable to locate a tape of the broadcast. According to the Black Student Union, hosts of the show called critics of the party ungrateful and used a derogatory term for African-Americans.
About 200 students, mostly black, met yesterday with administrators to discuss four pages of demands, mostly aimed at improving the campus’ racial climate.
Brewing tensions were made worse yesterday morning, when students searching for a copy of the videotape found a piece of cardboard in the student-run television studio with the words “Compton lynching” written on it — an apparent reference to the party, which was billed as the “Compton Cookout.”
The discovery was publicized in the middle of the emotional meeting between students and administrators. It prompted tears and repeated outcries from black students, who said they do not feel safe or welcome on campus. African-Americans make up less than 2 percent of undergraduates, a level that has been unchanged for a decade, despite recruitment efforts.
“You need to understand how deep racial tensions are on this campus,” said Bryant Pena, a third-year student from San Jose majoring in ethnic studies. Pena held up a UCSD student publication called the California Review, showing an editorial cartoon of a Muslim “underwear bomber.”
Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, who has condemned both the party and the TV show, stood at a lectern and repeatedly tried to appease the crowd. She read aloud each of the demands from the Black Student Union and stated “done” loudly after several. Among the demands she agreed to were providing solid funding for the African-American studies minor and ethnic studies programs.
For some of the more complex demands, such as creating a “diversity sensitivity requirement” for all undergraduates, Fox delegated the matter to vice chancellors, who said they would study the issues.
Several times during the meeting, students interrupted the administrators, saying they were not satisfied with the responses and the pace of change.
The show that sparked fresh outrage is called Koala TV and featured the editor of the Koala publication supporting the ghetto-themed party organized by fraternity members.
An invitation to the party urged participants to dress and act like “ghetto chicks” by speaking loudly, starting fights and wearing cheap clothes. The party drew condemnations from lawmakers in Sacramento and angered many students and faculty.
“We need to get rid of the Koala station now,” Bijon Robinson, a freshman from Los Angeles said, standing in the front row and pointing her finger at Fox. “All you’re doing is standing there and looking dumb. C’mon. Let’s get real.”
Fox repeatedly tried to wrap up the meeting, which stretched about two hours, eventually telling students she appreciated their comment.
“The actions over the last couple of days have stunned us,” Fox said. “They’re outrageous and will not be tolerated.”
Several students said afterward that they felt better getting their concerns out in the open, but were not completely satisfied with the administration’s response.
“They could have related to students a little better,” said Utsav Gupta, president of the Associated Students. “I don’t understand why we had to wait until these incidents happened to have a forum like this. I can see why so many students feel frustrated.”
Gupta said he’s doing his best to shut down the Koala show, which has been a source of controversy for years on campus.
In years past, Koala TV has been temporarily unplugged at least once for airing pornographic material. The Koala publication has poked fun at Muslims, Latinos and Asians for years, and has been repeatedly criticized by the administration. The editor of the publication, Kris Gregorian, declined to comment unless offered beer.
The student government provides funding for campus organizations, including the Koala, but Gupta said this incident prompted all media-outlet funding to be frozen.
Gupta shut down the student-run TV station Thursday night about 11:30, as soon as he heard about the material being aired. He said the blackout will last until a new task force can rewrite rules for campus media. He said he’s investigating how Koala staffers were able to record the show without approval.
While many students said they are surprised by the level of hurt that surfaced at the morning protest and meeting, they said the racial tensions on the 29,100-student campus have been boiling for some time.
That became clear as events quickly snowballed this week. Just hours after the Koala TV show aired, the Black Student Union declared the state of emergency. It organized a march that began yesterday at 8 a.m., which led to the impromptu meeting with administrators.
The union’s chairman, David Ritcherson, said he has heard about several students considering transferring because they feel so isolated on campus. One percent of UCSD’s freshman class this year is black, which the least of all UC campuses.
“I don’t feel accepted, and I don’t feel welcomed here at all,” Robinson said. “The whole lynching situation pretty much upset me. It is a possible threat. It was found in the Koala studio, where they called us niggers, and called us ungrateful, and ghetto and dumb. This is an unsafe environment.”
Excuse me as I throw up.
ETA: A student is being questioned about a noose found hanging from a library bookcase. WHAT THE FUCK?