The University of California prides itself on diversity, but its 10 campuses have been reminded that there’s still work to do.
On Feb. 25, a noose was found hanging from a light fixture in UC San Diego’s Geisel Library. The scene was grouped with several similar racially charged incidents.
“Before the noose was the San Diego ‘Compton Cookout’ and an incident with their student TV station,” said Steve Montiel, the media relations representative for UC’s Office of the President. “Someone also found swastikas drawn on a door at [UC] Davis.”
The imagery found at UCSD has now filtered into UC Santa Cruz.
A mass e-mail on Monday from the office of Chancellor George Blumenthal stated that graffiti found in an Earth and Marine Sciences building bathroom made a clear reference to the San Diego noose. It allegedly contained an image of a noose accompanied by the words “San Diego” and “lynch.” Over the next two days, additional instigative graffiti was found at the Women’s Center and the Music Center.
Jim Burns, UCSC’s director of public information, said the search for suspects is ongoing.
“Unfortunately, the people responsible are not always identified,” Burns said. “The chancellor wanted to condemn it and also ask people for help.”
In the case at San Diego, a UCSD student came forward and claimed responsibility for herself and two others. She has been suspended pending further investigation.
With nothing but word-of-mouth and a Facebook event, three to four days of preparation brought nearly 100 students to Kresge Town Hall on Wednesday to discuss the outbreak of intolerance.
The event was independent of administration and had no organizational affiliations; it consisted of student-led discussions and student ideas.
Not all student outrage was directed toward the individuals immediately responsible.
“The administration’s response is inadequate because an e-mail is insufficient,” said first-year politics major Delia Zaragoza. “In terms of the ‘Compton Cookout,’ a school-sponsored fraternity put that on, and the school indirectly supported that.”
Small-group discussions focused on structural inequalities keeping ethnic minorities out of higher education, such as the drastic student fee increases. Zaragoza directly associated waning diversity with rising tuition prices.
“It all goes back to [the university] putting up road blocks that are veiled behind administration purposes,” Zaragoza said. “They say it’s due to budget cuts, like they have no options … I’m not surprised there are still racial tensions in the university.”