More Vandalism!?!? What’s the Solution? Another Email!!!!

Racist vandalism apparently is not a priority or an important concern to UCSC administration. Unfortunately it seems that there is often discriminatory messages being written on the walls around this campus; yet, it seems that the only solution that administrators are willing to take is to write concerned emails about how disgraceful the actions are. Furthermore, they often like to end their letters by informing students on resources that they can attend if they need a space to “talk.” Hence, this implies that students must take the initiative of coming forth since administrators do not adequately outreach or address our concerns. This also places a heavy burden on students, because being a college student is difficult enough but now we must make an extra effort to seek these “safe spaces” to discuss how annoyed and hurt we are feeling. Also, as we have these conversations we are often only able to speak to certain tokenized administrators; meanwhile, the mero mero jefes and jefas tend to remain enclosed in some office avoiding our concerns. The people who have the real decision-making power are hardly around to actually listen to our concerns including but not limited to: racism and the lack of a Critical Race & Ethnic Studies Department.

I don’t want to sound like some whiny college student, but  as a student of color it is so frustrating to see the administration’s apathy towards creating real concrete changes in regards to the hostility on this campus  and the lack of diversity. It’s only been a few weeks since the racist vandalism was found in the Cowell bathroom stating “Stop the Invasion, Kill a Mexican;” yet, here we are only a few weeks later facing a similar situation. Copied below is a copy of an email that was ONLY sent to Stevenson students. Therefore, I pose the following questions: Why wasn’t this email sent out to the entire student body? Furthermore, why is racism on this campus always reduced to a simplistic email that DOES NOT adequately address the real systematic issues occurring here and within our greater society?

                                                                Stevenson College
                                                               UC Santa Cruz
May 22, 2011

To:  The Stevenson College Community

About:  Racist Graffiti in the Men’s Restroom (near Classroom 150)

From:  Alice Yang, Provost (ayang@ucsc.edu)
      Jim Carter, College Administrative Officer (ejcarter@ucsc.edu)

Late Friday afternoon, May 13, a Stevenson staff member reported that the plural of the  “N” word was written in pencil on a wall in the men’s restroom in the breezeway across from classroom 150.

The incident is disturbing, and as a College community we want to reinforce our condemnation of the use of any kind of hate speech anywhere on campus.  To those affected in any way by this incident, we offer our support.

The graffiti was removed right away, and a hate/bias incident report was submitted via “reporthate.ucsc.edu.”

Stevenson promotes and supports ongoing efforts to strengthen a climate of inclusion that respects individuals and groups of all races, religions, ethnicities, traditions, backgrounds, sexual orientations, abilities, and cultures.   Collaborating to build a diverse community is at the core of our educational mission.

We care about each individual in our community, and we want everyone to feel safe, respected, included, and affirmed.

In support of UCSC’s Principles of Community, please continue to do what you can to be an ally in confronting or reporting hateful speech or behavior and supporting your friends or colleagues who may experience racism in both direct and indirect ways.  We encourage everyone to unite against expressions of prejudice, ignorance, or threat.

Please be reminded of resources for reporting and/or support:
–African American Resource and Cultural Center (http://www2.ucsc.edu/aasl)
–Student Affairs Diversity and Inclusion Office (http://studentaffairs.ucsc.edu/diversity/)
–Student Affairs CARE line:  831-459-3456
–After Hours Crisis line:  831-459-2628.

Thank you for your attention and concern.  If you have questions or wish to talk further about this message, please feel free to contact Provost Alice Yang, CAO Jim Carter, or another member of the College staff.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Alice Yang
Jim Carter

Jim Carter
College Administrative Officer
Cowell: 831.459-3642
Stevenson:  831.459-2638

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About UCSC Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES)

This blog is maintained by students throughout UCSC. We recognize that students have been working around Ethnic Studies for multiple decades and at many levels of the university. We claim no ownership over any movement or material that is produced. We ask that any materiel used from the blog is cited and used for only educational purposes. Most importantly that it is done with honor and respect for the many people who worked in the struggle for Ethnic Studies. We would also like to point out that the name Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) was created to acknowledge the intellectual development of Ethnic Studies since the beginning of this struggle. The name came from countless meetings and hours with many different undergrads, graduate students, and faculty.
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3 Responses to More Vandalism!?!? What’s the Solution? Another Email!!!!

  1. Alice Yang says:

    I agree with you that an email condemnation by itself would be an insufficient response but I’d like to point out a few things for you to consider. First, Jim Carter and I discussed the kind of response we should make after this incident happened. On the one hand, publicizing the graffiti gives the perpetrator attention and “recognition” in a way that is clearly undeserved. On the other hand, not making any sort of comment might send the message that we don’t care if this happens and might even condone hateful graffiti at our college. We wanted to limit publicity of the incident, reassure the members of our college that we will not tolerate such acts, and provide information to help support students who feel uncomfortable and unsafe because of this and other previous incidents.

    It is not the only action we have taken because we recognize that this graffiti is symptomatic of a larger problem of racism on this campus and within the wider community. When there was graffiti in late January, I immediately contacted our core instructors and asked them to discuss with their students racism, the history of racial tension at Stevenson, and the creation of the Rosa Parks African American Theme House as a way to combat this history. I also sent them links to a 10 minute YouTube video from the Eyes on the Prize documentary that showed the hate and violence the Little Rock 9 faced when they tried to desegregate Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957. The video clip included a comment at the end that if they let the mob hang one of the students, the other 8 might be allowed to leave safely. While anyone who studies the civil rights movement knows that violence was the usual response to activism, I thought this kind of comment might shock some of our more sheltered and privileged students. I also urged our instructors to discuss the hateful commentary posted on the YouTube site and to challenge some students’ assumption that the election of Obama “ended” racism or that racism was a “thing of the past.” I also encouraged them to promote attendance at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Convocation by Dr. Terrence Roberts (one of the Little Rock 9) and his panel with students at Stevenson the next day. I know one of the instructors, Kiva Silver, brought his entire class to the panel. The panel included a great performance by Rainbow Theater and discussion about ways we could address the problem of racism on campus.

    Jim Carter and I (along with several other staff members) also met with the Multicultural Advisory Committee at Stevenson and other concerned students about an appropriate response to the graffiti incident. There was an enlightening discussion of racism, homophobia, and the pain this has inflicted on our community. To counter this history of intolerance, we agreed that we would encourage students to share their experiences at open mic and support a whole host of activities MAC planned throughout the year, including a panel on the Dream Act.

    I’m also trying to improve the climate at Stevenson by sponsoring courses that support diversity and are the result of the commitment of Donnae Smith, Coordinator for the Diversity and Inclusion Program, and Holly Gritsch de Cordova, Director of Learning Support Services. Donnae taught a course on Cultural Diversity Facilitators that trained students on how to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment at Stevenson. We are expanding this course from one to two courses next year. Holly wrote a proposal for a Faculty Mentor Program course at Stevenson, taught by Angelica Lopez, that encouraged low-income, ethnic minority students to conduct research with faculty, learn more about applying to graduate school, and hopefully contribute one day to the diversification of academia. Having served as a faculty mentor in the past, I really wanted to support the continuation of this important program.

    I also have tried to support students of color and first-generation college students by giving the keynote at the EOP academic excellence program and speaking at the EOP dinner for students participating in the Bridge and Sophomore Academy programs that were interested in Art and Humanities. I’m also part of a Hispanic-Serving Institution Task Force that is planning support services to improve retention on this campus as we become a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Along with Kim Lau and Jessica Fiske-Bailey, I’ve been working to try to get permanent funding for Rainbow Theater because it plays a vital role in sustaining students of color here. I’m also working with Will Duggan, a Stevenson student and RA at the Rosa Parks African American Theme House, on developing a program that helps frosh engage with issues of racism, colonialism, and poverty. I also think we need to do a better job of recruiting more students of color and first generation college students to this campus by publicizing all the work student organizations have done in the past.

    I also have hosted many receptions for different campus groups (especially the AA/PI Resource Center) at the provost house. I love bringing together students, faculty, and staff and plan to hold many more events as a way of fostering a stronger sense of community because I really enjoy talking with students about their experiences here.

    Finally, you should know that I’m part of the working faculty group on Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. This group of approximately 25 faculty are committed to developing a program and an eventual department here. We’ve met with undergraduate and graduate students and have developed a statement explaining the need to create a program now. We hope to finalize this statement by the end of the week and begin working on a concrete proposal before the end of the quarter. Several of us also attended tonight’s forum with concerned students and faculty, Alison Galloway, Herbie Lee, and Mark Cioc at the Merrill Cultural Center. We believe the timing is right, despite the budget crisis, because we now have a confluence of undergraduate, graduate student, faculty, and administrative support. We are also committed to a transparent process that recognizes that all of this is only possible because of student activism here and that consults with students as we craft a proposal for the administration. I hope that all of you who read this will participate in this effort as we go forward as quickly as possible. You can always email me at ayang@ucsc.edu to arrange a meeting to discuss problems and possible solutions on this campus. I’ve been provost at Stevenson for less than a year and would welcome your suggestions for other actions I can take to improve campus life.

    • Thank you Alice for your thoughtful response. It was very informative and I do know that you have been working very hard on combating some of the problematic issues our campus is facing. The post wasn’t meant to be an attack on you. It was just a critique of the emails and lack of prioritization that is generally done by administrators. I’m glad though that students have allies like you.

  2. Alice Yang says:

    Thanks. I know that in the past administrators often have not been responsive to student needs and concerns but I think you’ll find that this administration is quite different and that we’ll actually get significant change. As faculty, we recognize and appreciate the impact student activism has had on keeping this issue alive and we look forward to working with you as we develop a program proposal.

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