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UC San Diego Administers Claim Racial Climate Has Improved On Campus

One year after racial strife at UC San Diego made national headlines, administrators today touted progress in improving the campus climate, but students said racial incidents continue to occur.

The number of applications by minority high school seniors to UCSD last fall jumped 27 percent, and transfer applications from under-represented students climbed 19 percent, said Mae Brown, assistant vice chancellor for admissions at the university.

"We have been very aggressive in the last three or four years to find populations we wouldn't have reached before with our older outreach methods,'' Brown said at a luncheon held for San Diego-area reporters.

As an example, she said the school is seeking out secondary school student groups with diverse populations to have them visit UCSD, which should lead to increased application numbers.

Racial troubles at the seaside campus broke out in February 2010 when a student group held a "Compton Cookout'' party to poke fun at Black History Month. That led to demonstrations organized by the Black Student Union and other groups that made demands for improving diversity at the school.

A year later, some students said racial incidents continue on campus. Hackers recently sent out a racially charged e-mail on the school's account, and administrators did not acknowledge the problem, said Mabel Tsang, a Muir College student leader.

"We still don't feel safe on this campus,'' fellow student Crystal Alvarez said.

Alvarez said the president of the student body was the only student invited to the luncheon, in what she called "a perfect example'' of how the administration treats them.

"They're speaking on our behalf,'' Alvarez said. "I take it as an insult.''

Associated Students President Wafa Ben Hassine said many pupils recognize a "genuine sincere effort'' on behalf of administrators to improve the campus climate.

"There's still a lot of work to be done,'' said Ben Hassine, a political science senior. "We're extremely worried that once we've graduated, what's going to happen (at the school)?''

A more comprehensive approach to racial tolerance is needed to be successful once students currently studying at UCSD have moved on, she said.

Jeff Gattas, UCSD's director of communications, said "we're not going to change 180 degrees overnight,'' but maintained that the improved numbers of minority admissions requests is a sign that their early work is paying off.

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