UCSD racial tensions on the rise

Erica Arvizu

The looming sound of chanting, “Whose campus? Our campus!”?grew clearer as hundreds of UC San Diego students progressed toward the Price Center Ballroom for a two-hour “teach- in”?on Feb. 24, orchestrated by UCSD administration in response to recent racial tension on campus.

What started as a flippant theme party hosted by several fraternities at UCSD, advertised as the “Compton Cookout,” has?culminated into a heated movement by outraged students and faculty.

Blacks, Latinos, whites and others marched side by side, clad in black t-shirts that read “Real pain. Real action. 1.3%” – the 1.3 percent representing the black population at UCSD.

?As the masses filtered into the ballroom, the group of energized and emotional marchers used megaphones and drums as they shouted, “We’re fired up, can’t take it no more!” until the meeting was started by the dean of Marshall College. The seats in the ballroom were filled and students took up standing and floor room.

Dr. Nadine George was first to take the stage. George’s body of work as professor of Theater, Dance, Performance Studies and African American Studies, has been dedicated to acknowledging and conquering issues of class, age, race and gender inequalities.

George described the current state of the campus climate as part of “an ongoing struggle, escalated by recent events.”

She urged the necessity that this “teach-in” must be part of a larger, administrative response to racial issues on campus, not just a Band-Aid.

“I think there is no trust on this campus,” George said. ” The atmosphere is toxic and hostile. It was toxic and hostile before and it has become unbearable and unmanageable; I think this community is fractured.”

George’s message focused on the demoralizing effect that acts of stereotyping, for entertainment purposes, can have on society, sighting such political injustices as the Jim Crow Laws that were fueled by stereotypes.

?She urged students that held a blase attitude toward this specific event, to educate themselves on the serious impact that these irreverent acts have on the disenfranchisement of African-Americans and other minority groups.

“This is where racial profiling comes from,” George said. “It fundamentally changes the way we see these people in the future. Especially in places like this where there are so few of us.”

After George’s speech, the floor was opened up to leaders of the UCSD Black Student Union, who continued to raise the concern that the teach-in was merely a reaction to the embarrassment that was pressed upon them, stating that changes do not occur through bureaucratic power, but through student involvement.

“This two hour teach-in is a hierarchal approach to issues of racism and misogyny,” one of the BSU leaders said.

They then urged students to exit the building, an hour into the teach-in, to be part of an impromptu rally outside in the quad.
The teach-in, while depleted of the majority of students, continued, giving the remaining time to an open discussion.

Participants included students representing colleges from all over Southern California, and a teacher from Compton High School who read a letter written by student leadership, highlighting the ridiculous acts by “supposedly educated adults.”

Administrative efforts paled in comparison to the lively rally that occurred outside . Students wielded signs that read “Future doctors come from Compton.”

Several teachers from nearby colleges united to give speeches to the thousands of participating students, chanting loudly, “The people united, will never be divided!”