Members of UCSD’s student groups Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan (MEChA) and Migrant Rights Action (MiRA), students, and community members gathered Tuesday to protest the April 8 chalkings, as well as UCSD’s response. The rally, entitled #ChalkBack, was publicized on Facebook as a way to peacefully protest and create a forum to bring forth these issues.
“The significance of the rally particularly marks a six year period where UC San Diego and the administration has not complied with the demands of the Compton Cookout and specifically refuses to meet with students of color who are asking for the administration to recognize student of color needs,” said Ph.D graduate student Leslie Quintanilla, who studies institutional racism in the University of California system.
Student speakers at the event discussed personal experiences with similar messages and campus climate, then presented a list of demands they want the administration to consider.
“I had [overnight guests] myself so they come from minority groups and then they saw [the messages] and I didn’t even know what to say,” said Lourdes Sarmiento Martinez, who attended the rally. “I’m trying to show them that the school’s good, but at the same time, I can’t lie to them about that aspect,” said Martinez.
Quintanilla emphasized that the rally hopes to influence a change in the way UCSD promotes diversity. Instead of UCSD’s promotion of what she deems “multicultural liberalism,” she hopes the university will include students of color and recognize their specific needs.
One such example is the Undocumented Student Services Center, according to Martinez. “[The center is] all the way on the fifth floor, so you struggle to find it. They don’t even have an administration leader right now because the person wasn’t even qualified enough to be there – she was just filling in,” said Martinez. “It just shows the lack of attention to that aspect, even though there are immigrant students here and not just from a Latino background.”
Multiple rally participants stressed that their frustration was not primarily concerned with individual or political opinions, but with the response from the administration about the acts. “The fact that UCSD continues to protect hateful speech that can materialize in affecting and threatening student of color bodies on this campus says a lot about its perpetuation of institutional racism and its disregard for student of color traumas and histories,” said Quintanilla.
The list of demands has not been made public while talks with the administration continue.