UC San Diego came under fire recently for racist allegations based on students mocking the celebration of Black History Month in February.
These incidents began with the Feb. 15 “Compton Cookout,” a ghetto-themed party publicized on Facebook by fraternity members at the university. The party mocked black culture, featuring an African American DJ and encouraging female students to wear “gold teeth, start fights and drama and wear cheap clothes,” according to the San Diego Union Tribune. The situation elevated when a campus television program publicized someone using a racial epithet at the party.
A few days later, another incident started harmlessly enough, according to the apology letter written by a female student after she turned an “innocent” jump rope into a hanging noose in the college library.
More incidents followed, and I am sure there have been several in the past that have yet to be revealed. In light of these events, some people are asking: What are we to make of this situation? How could our children, who have been educated and nurtured in one of the best public research universities, have participated in such behavior? Who is to blame?
As News Editor for The Campanil, I try to withhold my opinions about both on and off-campus issues when reporting and editing, but as a concerned student of color, something needs to be said now more than ever. My question is: How can a school administration address these issues when the school’s population lacks a diverse enough faculty and student body?
I think it is best to start this off by affirming, as did the UCSD Black Student Union in their statement to the college’s Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, that the university has created a “toxic environment for African-American students on this campus.” 64 percent of UCSD’s undergraduate population are students of color, but only two percent are black students. There is an under-representation of Latino and Black students in the public education system that has yet to be addressed after Proposition 209 passed in 1996, which barred public universities from admitting students based on race, sex or ethnicity.
But how does this apply to us at Mills College? Yes, we have diverse classrooms that discuss issues of race and ethnicity more than many other schools, but there is still much more that we, as students, can do. We need to clean the atmosphere of race-based exclusion and focus on creating change both inside and outside the classroom.
Let us bring this discussion into our social lives and, most importantly, foster a dialogue between our clubs and organizations on campus. The entire higher education community needs more activities that discuss the beauty of different cultures and, as a result, unite us as a community of students. Events such as WTF (White Transformative Folk Institute) and other events that both educate and unite us as a campus are needed now more than ever.
Even though we attend a private university, need to stand together with our brothers and sisters at public universities to demand more dialogue in our classrooms for all education levels.
At UC Berkeley, black students stood in solidarity against the racial hatred revealed at UCSD with a staged “blackout” in front of Sather Gate March 1. Behind these gates of our private institution, we too need to be more active in addressing these issues in solidarity with all students.
Let’s all stand together at the gates of discrimination and not be silent anymore. Let us promote more diversity in all classrooms and not let another “joke” add to this toxic environment that has invaded our educational system. Let us create a more culturally responsible campus for all students.