Race Relations At UCSD
Friday, February 26, 2010
JOANNE FARYON (Host): A racially theme college party more than a week ago raised questions about institutional racism at UCSD. Less than 2% of the student population there is African-American. The off campus party has been the impetus for action. Black student leaders are calling on school administrators to fix racial inequities. Education reporter Ana Tintocalis has been covering the story throughout the week - she joins me now. Ana thanks for being here.
ANA TINTOCALIS (KPBS News): Thank you.
FARYON: Tell us what happened this week at UCSD in response to the Compton Cookout, the so-called party.
TINTOCALIS: Well the fallout has been quite dramatic and very fast moving. There seems to be developments everyday. In fact today I got reports that a noose was found in one of the libraries, and campus police have confirmed that. And again, this just adds fuel to the fire of an already very tense situation at UCSD. And so what we might see in the coming weeks is a real polarization now of students against students. I think this past week there's been really a lot of angst on the students’ parts against the administration. But now we might see some polarization within the student body itself. And this week you just saw a lot of student organizing. There were rallies, marches, protests. There was a teach-in that was organized by the administration. So they’re trying to address the situation but then you have, you know, ongoing fallout from this one party.
FARYON: You mentioned the teach-in. What happened at the teach-in earlier this week?
TINTOCALIS: Well the teach-in was the administration’s opportunity to –what they felt – begin the healing process. Let’s talk about this, let’s talk about why such incidents still happen on public university grounds. And they were hoping to get buy in from the students. And the students did show up – in fact they marched through the teach-in and sat down for about an hour. They were invited to speak at the podium, and at that point they pretty much said a teach-in is not going to solve the problem, this demands immediate action. And they presented the administration earlier in the week with a list of 32 demands they want acted on immediately. And with that they took everyone out of – all the students basically, several hundred students out of the teach-in and marched them on campus for their own quote, unquote “teach-in.”
FARYON: Now, you’ve been talking to a lot of people on campus. A lot of students, what are they telling you?
TINTOCALIS: Well initially students were outraged. There were a couple of very candid forums where students were yelling at top-ranking administrators, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. They were just venting their frustration. There was a lot of hurt and pain. I saw many students break down in tears. And it’ll be interesting to find out the fallout from this noose incident. But I think the students, the black students, have brought in other minority student groups and they're saying this is not just a black issue. This is everyone’s issue; so join us in putting pressure on the university. And so that’s what we’re seeing. I spoke to one student in particular and she basically said an injustice to one is an injustice to all. And this is what she had to say about how students are feeling on campus.
SHUNYA WADE (Member, Black Student Union, UCSD): It is not only an African-American issue. This is a reflection of the campus climate as a whole. And everyone feels out pain because this is a struggle that we’ve all gone through and that we’re all still going through. And so we’re standing together saying that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. An injustice to any group of people is an injustice to any other group of people. Not many people know that this is a violation of our student code of conduct, which students have agreed to upon registering for this university. And that’s what we’re making sure that people understand that this is a violation of rules that have already been set forth, and we’re just waiting for action to be taken.
FARYON: You mentioned the division, the split on campus. How is that playing itself out right now?
TINTOCALIS: Well initially you saw this being very much of a black student union issue. But as I mentioned they're bringing in Latino organizations, students with disabilities, and gay/lesbian/bisexual students to mount a bigger campaign. They're bringing faculty members in. So there is somewhat of a unifying factor on campus, however, I think there are still divisions quite frankly among the white and Asian students. You don’t see that much of a unifying factor with the rest of the minority groups. So I think moving forward you might see more divisions there, but that remains to be seen.
FARYON: So how are campus administrators responding to all of this?
TINTOCALIS: Well administration is saying that we’re taking a proactive response to this, we realize this is awful. They’ve mounted a campaign that says “Racism: Not in Our Community.” They’ve launched also a couple of other websites to keep students up to date on the issues. They're trying to meet with community leaders, and they're taking a look at this list of 32 demands. A lot of them they say have already been in practice, but students believe well, you need to double your efforts; you’re not doing enough. And they want other concessions. So the administration is saying we’re looking through these demands. Some of them will require more funding, a reallocation of funding, which we all know that there's a budget crisis now and so that might be difficult. They're taking a look at admissions policy changes that the students want to be changed. And they're also taking a look at more curricular issues. For example, one of the demands requires that all students coming into UCSD take an ethnic studies class and kind of satisfy this diversity sensitivity requirement, and that stuff that you have to figure out with the administration and in curricular changes.
FARYON: Ok. Thank you Ana Tintocalis.
TINTOCALIS: Thank you.