March 4 Day of Action: Healing the University of California

On the morning of California’s largest statewide strike and Day of Action for Public Education to date, University of California campuses continue to be plagued by a slew of racist, homophobic, Anti-semitic and transphobic actions.
****Trigger Warning****
Hate Round-up:
LGBT Resource Center Vandalized at UC Davis
The word Fag is spray-painted over the LGBT resource center sign.
This was discovered Saturday morning. There are responses from the LGBT Resource Center and from the Co-Chair of the State UCLGBTQIA Association.
Swastika Carved into Jewish Student’s Door at UC Davis
The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

Compton Cookout at UC San Diego
Several weeks ago, UC San Diego students threw a “ghetto-themed” party with a long, racist description of costume requirements:

“For girls: For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks-Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes [...] They also have short, nappy hair, and usually wear cheap weave, usually in bad colors, such as purple or bright red. They look and act similar to Shenaynay, and speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger in your face. Ghetto chicks have a very limited vocabulary, and attempt to make up for it, by forming new words, such as “constipulated”, or simply cursing persistently, or using other types of vulgarities, and making noises, such as “hmmg!”, or smacking their lips, and making other angry noises, grunts, and faces. The objective is for all you lovely ladies to look, act, and essentially take on these “respectable” qualities throughout the day.”

UC San Diego Student Radio Station hurls racist slurs
Students from the station called protesters of the Compton Cookout “ungrateful n*****s” on air. A note with the words “Compton Lynching” was found on the ground.
Noose hung at UC San Diego library
Noose hung over a light fixture.
The student who confessed to hanging the noose maintains she had no racial motivation, and that she simply found a piece of rope while with friends, her friend tied it, brought it with her to the library, and left it there by accident. A note was found saying, “More Nooses to Come.”
KKK Hood Placed on Statue at UC San Diego

Tuesday, Dr. Seuss’s birthday, his statue was adorned with a KKK hood and a rose was placed in his fingers.
Noose Drawn at UC Santa Cruz
The words San Diego and Lynch are separated by a hand-drawn noose on a bathroom stall.
Administrators found this in a UC Santa Cruz restroom. The word “Visionary” is written below it.
The “Irvine 11″ at UC Irvine
A flyer says 'Stand with the Eleven' with a picture of two men, arms raised in protest.
Eleven students at UC Irvine protested the visit of Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, and were arrested because their choice to exercise free speech happened to concern Israel. Faculty have battled over whether their protest or their arrest was the “true” act of prejudice. The students were removed from the event one by one, by police officers, and now as a collective group, are being threatened with expulsion. Their punishment is inordinate because of the subject matter they were protesting.
Two LGBTQ-identified UC Riverside students attacked
This hate crime occurred on February 10. Two UCR students, holding hands, were attacked by 3 assailants, who beat them while shouting anti-gay epithets in an area directly located off of the campus.
Noose Drawn on Black figure at UC Berkeley residence
This month, a UC Berkeley cooperative student housing facility had a mural defaced with a noose drawn around a black figure. It was cleaned up.

I grew up blocks from UC Davis. I spent last Christmas with my partner in Riverside, where we couldn’t hold hands because we felt it was an unsafe environment. We were right. My childhood friends attend Santa Cruz, I attend UC Berkeley, and I was at UC San Diego with hundreds of other students for the Students of Color Conference last November. The University of California system is hurting, and emergency townhalls are being called across the state, especially in the LGBT and black communities. It’s a scary time to be queer, a person of color, or both in California today. Luckily, some students respond intelligently.
Tuesday, UC Davis held a queer townhall and UC Santa Barbara planned a townhall for next week. Wednesday, UC Berkeley held a queer townhall, as well as a teach-in in preparation for tomorrow’s statewide Day of Action for Public Education. But as we Berkeley organizers gathered Tuesday night to plan the queer townhall, debating for hours whether to create a space for healing or a space for action, we realized that we ourselves had not yet processed the blows dealt to our communities. Presented with dozens of images of hate on the Berkeley campus and systemwide, students embraced a new slogan: “Real pain, real action.”
The UC Berkeley Black Recruitment and Retention Center held a “Black-out” Monday, where around 200 members dressed entirely in black and silently blocked the entrance to Sather Gate, the most prominent walkway on campus, to represent the invisibility of black students on UC campuses.
Hundreds of black students dressed in black, with faces covered, block a gate.
At Monday night’s Emergency Black Townhall at Berkeley, a student leader explained the reason for limiting this action to black students only: after the Compton Cook-out and the noose found at UC San Diego, it was necessary to unify the scattered and wounded black community and “Get from -1 to zero.” Then, with the help of allies, Berkeley can move “From zero to 1.”
March 4 will be a statewide success, with marches, protests, picket lines and strikes, rallies, sit-ins, occupations, legislative lobbying, and impressive action on the magnitude of K-12, community college, state university, and University of California involvement. We might wake up and see fire on the news. But just as the budget cuts, fee hikes, police brutality, and violent response to student occupations deteriorate the UC system, so do the racist, transphobic, and homophobic actions across the state. Chancellors will send out emails praising police actions, and these hateful incidents will be ignored for a day as administrative buildings are locked or shut down statewide.
pictures of protesters and the words march 4 strike from diego to the bay- day of action for public education.
But it’s no coincidence that the students targeted by these hateful incidents, black students, LGBTQ students, and all underrepresented or minority students, are among those driven away from higher education by tuition increases. Tomorrow, the students on the front lines will be fighting not only for the right to step foot on a college campus, but to feel safe when we arrive. California students, staff, parents, and faculty will unite today for higher education, but we all have some healing to do first.

Keep track of March 4 events at the UC Student Regent’s blog, or twitter.
University of California Walkout Today
Police Brutality against CA Protesters for Higher Education

Join the Conversation

  • BackseatBetty

    Thank you for bringing light to this issue! I’m a student at SDSU and am ashamed and embarrassed that we still live in a world where hate discrimination still takes place, especially on school campuses where fostering critical thinking, awareness, and tolerance are supposed to trump hate.
    What’s even more painful is the recent events going on at UCSD in regards to the “Compton Cookout.” I never thought that here in CA, at a well-known university, there would be such blatant racism. It’s frustrating to witness these atrocities while the administration feigns apathy. We do not need to go back in time! We should be moving forward and moving past discrimination of all kinds!
    Along with the situation at UCSD, there is also a student-run newspaper which has been distributed on campus for several years called The Koala. It started at UCSD and has added distribution to SDSU students as well. The Koala prides itself on its racist, homophobic, and sexist remarks and pictures, claiming they have a right to do so under the 1st Amendment. Most students want The Koala off our campuses but the administration seems too intimidated to get entirely involved. Can you believe we live in an age where a college administration group can’t stand their ground and remove slanderous hate from our grounds??? Just take a look at the filth they distribute:
    We need all the help and coverage we can get in order to squash The Koala. For information, people can join the Ban “The Koala” (SDSU) Facebook page:

  • Toongrrl

    I go to Bakersfield College and if this is happening at more liberal colleges, we are screwed!!!!!! Dr. Seuss was a nice man!!!! How could they make a mockery of him? He faced discrimination as a german-american during the first decades of the 20th century.

  • The Flash

    Is the Irvine 11 thing really in league with these other events? It seems like it’s a case of arguing about/for free speech, not of protecting students from acts of hatred and violence.
    And you don’t think that maybe the solution to stopping campus antisemitism could be palestinian rights activists no longer tolerating antisemitism by their fellow-travelers? The least discussion of all of these is granted to the swastika incident, which I’m assuming must have at least a little bit of context to it…

  • Ariel
  • lezbianthezbian

    I’ve been involved with the Palestinian rights protests at several UC and CSU campuses, and I have never seen any anti-semitism expressed. I’m Jewish and I look it. I’m willing to bet a lot that the swastika is completely separate from the Palestinian rights groups. If anything, these people have been more careful to avoid inflammatory language about Israel and Judaism so as not to discredit themselves as bigots, and so discredit their cause.

  • natalie wilson

    Wanted to add that a sign was posted on bathroom wall at my campus last night. Image and post can be found here: racist attack at csusm on statewide day of action for education

  • Jordan

    as a UC Riverside student I was appalled by the “gay bashing” (ugh) that occured and the fact that the police have been anything but proactive has just made it worse.
    Obviously, the UC system is in disarray for more than a few reasons…

  • Ms. Junior

    I am also an SDSU student, and I am really glad that BackseatBetty mentioned the Koala and posted the link to the Ban the Koala Facebook group. One of the stories above, titled “UC San Diego Student Radio Station hurls racist slurs” is incorrect. The racist slurs happened, but it was on a student-run publicly broadcasted T.V. station. The Koala, which has regularly scheduled show, (as of January 26th 2009, “Koala TV will air EVERY Wednesday at 10pm on SRTV,” although I’m not sure if that’s the time that the aforementioned broadcast happened) is responsible for the racist slurs.
    Two years ago, the Koala at SDSU printed a personal hate letter to Doug Case, the openly gay head of Greek life (fraternities and sororities). The letter, which contained many homophobic slurs, was signed by Greek life at SDSU, although it was actually from one person (and maybe his friends, too). In the letter, this person threatened to “drop kick” his “poodle” if he ever saw his (insert anti-gay slur here) face again. LGBTSU (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Union) along with other student organizations and some faculty and staff held a protest against the Koala at the Free Speech Steps (which is also where the Koala distributes it’s “newspaper”). The Koala’s response: on the cover page of the next issue, there was an illustration of Tinky Winky (the supposedly gay Teletubby) and Doug Case holding hands and skipping. Inside was more homophobic slurs than I have ever seen in my life. By the way, the Koala also frequently contains rape “jokes,” along with anti-Semitic, transphobic and sexist remarks. Also at the end of every issue, the Koala has “personals” where students can write in and bash individuals (this is where the Doug Case hate letter appeared). For example, there was one that was “dear slut in my religious studies class” and went on to say how she was a suck up and that everyone hates her, etc. And I almost had a panic attack because I thought they were talking about me, except that it was a different time of day that they had class. When I was a freshman, someone handed me the Koala by saying “Free comics.” I was on my way to see my friend at the time, and when he saw me she said, “You really don’t want to read that,” and then he told me what it really was.
    The universities are afraid to go after the Koala because it is considered “free speech.” I find this deeply disturbing, because there is a huge difference between free speech and hate speech.

  • djhop

    Yes, i disagree with what you say so i must prevent you from saying it. Very American.

  • The Flash

    I dunno… not that LGF is any paragon of impartial journalism, but it doesn’t doctor photos…

  • davenj

    Yes. The Irvine 11 seems to be a free speech/protest issue.
    It’s an issue of whether or not disrupting another’s free speech is tolerable behavior on a college campus, and to what degree it is tolerable, given the nature of a university.
    Expulsion seems overly harsh, but UC Irvine does have a goal of creating a zone where free exchange of ideas is possible, and shouting down someone’s speech instead of staging a constructive response is problematic.
    Saying their punishment is inordinate due to what they were protesting is also a bold statement, one that I’d like to see the OP support. They disrupted the speech of a major ambassador. Repeatedly.
    When my school had the Japanese ambassador on campus I never for a second thought it would be tolerable to disrupt his speech.
    And that’s the issue at hand: free speech and protest vs. the goal of exchanging ideas, not just shouting at one another.

  • Devoted_Toucan

    I read about the UCSD incidents the other day “by chance” after I (was on Facebook and) clicked on a woman’s profile (didn’t know she was America; I just wanted to see if she was a member of a music site I use) and saw the ‘You know you go to UCSD when’ page there. The ‘You know when you go to…’ pages about schools I’ve attended amuse me, so I thought I’d check it out and see in what kind of things American universities differ to ours. There’s definitely nothing amusing on that page. It terrified, horrified, and disgusted me. I hope something makes them make serious changes for the better soon.

  • allegra

    You know, perhaps as cliched as it is (but perhaps not, since many people seem ignorant of it), there’s a difference between free speech and hate speech/harassment, and I’d say that what another commenter described being published in the paper below could easily be interpreted as contributing to an atmosphere of violence. There is ALWAYS a line to be drawn with free speech: you cannot, for example, publish sexually explicit photos in your student newspaper and expect to get away with it, or publish graphic stories depicting acts of violence against a specific person. Let me know when any newspaper is able to do this because then we will have unbridled “free speech.” The lame-ass “awwjeez it’s just ‘freah speach'” argument is meaningless in the context that speech is already regulated (and for even stupider reasons, in my opinion, such as sexual explicitness).
    Of course people value free speech. But I don’t even know if I’d call this speech. This is trash. This is not intended to make any useful point for productive public debate. It is intended to intimidate minorities and propagate hateful stereotypes.

  • 73666673

    I agree, I think you can make the case that this kind of publication promotes violence and is also slanderous. I’m all for free speech, but when said speech is encouraging hate against individuals which can lead to violence against them it should be stopped.

  • allegra

    Holy shit, that “student paper” is like something out of the fucking 1800s. At the same time, it’s just the type of American “free speech” I’ve come to expect. :/ Just another example of the downward spiral of public discourse in this country. We’re sitting here paralyzed over a health-care bill because of the total dearth of decent reporting and public debate on the matter, while the only thing other American citizens can think to use their writing skills for is regurgitating Jim Crow invective. Truly amazing.

  • allegra

    I just wanted to add that, while all of these events are serious and disturbing and do belie deeper race problems in this country, I’d be willing to bet at least part of it is copycat idiocy. We had similar incidents happen in the past couple years at my mid-sized university in Minnesota. I think it’s one of few things this school’s made national news for. :/ While the context is different – blacks and minorities are far less represented in this state than Cali, and most rural whites here encounter maybe like 2 blacks and 3 Latinos in their entire lives until college and thus have the privilege of remaining ignorant of race issues if they want – at least one of our swastika incidences proved to be some drunk idiot freshman. Though, of course, still, that this is the type of cultural symbolism people latch onto to make a “joke” or to treat as “not serious” is fucked up.
    I think many whites are honestly more ignorant of race issues than blatantly racist. When I teach rudimentary race theory in my classes, my students are almost always receptive, and understand the logic of it, and are empathetic. I think better education could mitigate some of the douchebaggery. :(

  • djhop

    So should we all have to submit what we want to say to a approving body, i’m guessing this would need to be government run, to make sure we do not violate “free” speech rules?
    This might be news to you, but you can yell fire in a crowded theater, you just have to deal with the consequences of your actions. No one is saying that free speech is speech free from consequences. Merely that no one should infringe upon a person’s right to speak freely.
    You don’t like what they are saying, fine. Write a rebuttal, call for boycotts. Do what ever protest you want. Just don’t try to stop the speech before it is spoken. If you can take away their right to speech, they yours is suspect as well.

  • Toongrrl

    I stand corrected Ariel.
    I can be such an idiot

  • allegra

    I guess, though that doesn’t make sense. That’s like saying you can shoot somebody in the head, but you’re “just going to have to deal with the consequences.” Of course you can do it or can say it. Same with sexual harassment: Of course you CAN claim “free speech” when you’re sexually harassing someone in the workplace. But it’s not “free speech.” It’s harassment.
    And I never said anything about a “preapproving body.” Which would also be stupid.
    And BTW, you want to talk about entities limiting Americans’ free speech? Our businesses and corporations limit free speech almost with impunity in the interest of making money, more than the people here calling for the pulling of The Koala, and I don’t see any douchebag organizations like FIRE getting on the cases of our corporate masters. Anyone who works for a private company surrenders about 85% of their “free speech” rights every time they walk in the door of their workplace. :/

  • cattrack2

    While there is in Europe, in this country there’s no difference between free speech & hate speech. They’re equally protected. As much as I hate the KKK they absolutely have a right to spew their filth. And even tho I’m black I’d strongly defend their right to do so. About the only speech you can be arrested or sued for is speech which slanders, libels, defames or incites riot. And for it to be found to ‘incite riot’ the riot has to be imminent, as in addressing a mob and telling them to go burn that building or whatever. Even revealing nat’l sec’y secrets isn’t necessarily a crime, so the US sets the bar very high.
    The antidote to hate speech is good speech. Gov’t suppression merely drives the hate underground where it festers. There are an assortment of reasons why European Muslims are more agitated and/or radicalized than their US counterparts, but certainly one reason is the suppression of their speech and religion. One example: Swiss voters recently passed a law banning the building of minarets because “they signify hate”. Do we really want the gov’t able to do that here?