Last month, the University Of California Board Of Regents adopted a 3,300 word document titled the Statement on the Principles Against Intolerance, in response to the waves of ethnic and gender related hate crimes occurring across all ten campuses. Although it was a proud step forward in establishing clear criteria on what a hate crime is and how it ought to be dealt with, it has proven itself meaningless without the cooperative efforts of administration to address hate-related incidents on campus.
On March 30th, 2016, UC Riverside's Media and Cultural Studies department announced that over Spring Break, the Ethnic and Gender Studies department was broken into and vandalized. Consequently, biographies and photographs of four women of color were either stolen or defaced, and images related to Palestine (including an image of the Palestine flag) were torn down from the wall. Immediately, students on social media condemned the act and displayed their solidarity with the department.
You would think that after an incident like this, campus administration would work even harder to ensure the safety of the students they serve, publicize on-campus counseling resources for affected communities, and provide an official report to debunk any misunderstandings, but sadly, this was not the case.
On April 15th, Chancellor Wilcox sent a campus-wide email condemning the anti-immigrant rhetoric that was written at UC San Diego, but did not recognize, mention or even merely acknowledge the hate crime that occurred on the campus that he directly oversees. While the Statement of the Principles Against Intolerance clearly states that "harassment, threats, assaults, vandalism, and destruction of property, as defined by university policy, will not be tolerated on campus", the lack of administrative action has perpetuated the acts that the statement originally sought to avoid. While the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security and Crime Statistics Act of 1994 requires public universities to report crimes, and Penal Code 594 considers vandalism to be a crime, no form of communication was given to students on behalf of the university regarding the incident.
The Statement on the Principles Against Intolerance is a trailblazing document that hints at the intent of creating a safer campus climate for students. Yet without intentional action from the Chancellors and administrative professionals, this is just a document of empty rhetoric geared at accomplishing a utopian ideal of unity without putting the groundwork to make such change tangible.
Chancellor Wilcox, Chancellor Dirks, Chancellor Katechi, Chancellor Gillman, Chancellor Block, Chancellor Leland, Chancellor Khosla, Chancellor Hawgood, Chancellor Yang, and Chancellor Blumenthal: I am urging you to take a more proactive and visible stance towards recognizing and condemning hate crimes that occur not just on your campus, but systemwide. As a student, I am calling upon each Chancellor to appoint an undergraduate and graduate student representative to look over and provide input towards all communication from the Chancellor's office. Students are tired of euphemisms and half-hearted statements distracting from the necessity of the pressing situations facing our university, and quite frankly, we're not going to stand for it much longer.
I am not going into debt in order to attend a university that clearly cares less about our safety as students. I am here to learn, not to be left wondering when the next hate crime will occur because of the lack of action that the UC has taken. It is time for us to go beyond what sounds good on paper and instead translate our passion into action towards ensuring that the diverse communities that the UC prides itself in have the right to feel safe, comfortable, and respected.
We are a world-class learning institution. We can do better.