“It is incumbent upon our senior administrators to pay attention to student concerns, to build relationships with students and student groups, and to solicit the thoughts and views of students at every opportunity,” reads the policy brief commissioned by the UC Regents in 2012 to help administrators prevent and mitigate campus unrest.
On April 9, UCSD’s admitted students day (Triton Day), in the hours of the early morning, unidentified individuals reportedly vandalized campus including the area outside of the Raza Resource Centro with chalk. The graffiti included such slogans as “build a wall,” “deport them all,” and “Mexico will pay.”
On April 10, ERC Provost Ivan Evans released a statement against intolerance. He specified who was affected, “Mexic[an] and Latino/a students,” including that ERC and “the campus at large” offered nothing but condemnation and solidarity.
On April 11, UCSD Chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor’s responded. “We affirm the Principles of Community as the guide for all campus citizens as we move forward to foster the best working and learning environment,” said the statement.
The two-paragraph response which came two days too late was entirely insufficient. Even more concerning, the response stated that the graffiti promoted the “deportation of undocumented immigrants.” The graffiti, however, called for the deportation of “Mexicans.”
The lack of differentiation between the Mexican community and all undocumented immigrants shows another clear example of the disregard which saturates senior administrators’ involvement with and concern for student issues. Overall, it seems to entirely step around the issue, neither condemning it nor offering any official support. It conveys apathy and reflects insensitivity and a concerning lack of understanding for the gravity of the situation.
For a campus that prides itself on being the “11th most ethnically diverse” undergraduate university, it is incredibly disappointing not only that these incidents occurred on our campus, but also that the response by the administration was delayed and inadequate.
The Office of the Chancellor needs to be prompt and proactive in their responses. We need to know that our Chancellor is with the 1147 students who signed the History Department’s Statement on Anti-Mexican Vandalism at UCSD, that he shares similar sentiments with Provost Evans, and that he stands with MEChA, MiRA, and their allies.
While the statement of response was well-intended, offering a simple affirmation two days after this event shows a callous disregard for the gravity of the situation. Triton Day is a day designated for potential UCSD students to come visit our campus, for a taste of the “UCSD experience.” The offensive and racially insensitive chalkings no doubt had the potential to drive away some of the most qualified and diverse students.
While efforts to facilitate talks on campus can be acknowledged as a step in the right direction, deferring the facilitation of these talks to the resource centers without direct involvement from senior administrators only further compounds the problem.
Chancellor Khosla, although there is no single individual who can undo decades of intolerance and detachment, your stances make the broadest institutional impact. You must become an active participant in this conversation in order to bridge the gap between the needs and concerns of historically underrepresented minorities and our administrators.
You represent us as a campus to the UC community. Your words decide if we lag behind and continue to be saddled with memories of racial injustice or proactively move forward as a campus.
When you don’t speak out loudly and with conviction, it speaks the world about how this campus will handle future incidents of xenophobia and racism.
Is it out of place to ask? Does our Chancellor stand with us?
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