Saturday, August 24

UC must prioritize elimination of racism

SUBMITTED BY: Corey Matthews

In light of the recent incidents that have occurred on the campuses of UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara, the Afrikan Student Union at UCLA stands in solidarity for the fight against racial injustice and intolerance and the promotion of an inclusive University of California.

We stand in solidarity because we recognize that the university represents our larger society and its prejudice toward people of color.

Moreover, we understand that the university provides an avenue of cross-cultural exchange and awareness; thus, we challenge the university to address cultural exclusion and prejudice, directly.

UCSD has provided some frightening sanctions to the student who stepped forward to claim responsibility for a noose. When did it become acceptable for a university to expel students for plagiarism but sanction a mere suspension for physical threat with a deadly weapon? After all, a noose is deadly because it has been used to murder African-American men.

The sanctioning process and procedures value academic integrity over student lives and physical livelihoods, and I believe that the concern is rooted in the tone that the campus sets for its students.

We all know that on any college campus, cheating will not be tolerated; are we equally certain that college campuses will not tolerate targeted racial injustice, intolerance and exclusivity?

How is it that nearly every environment has its set of normative rules, practices and standards but the UC schools struggle with identifying the best ways of establishing its standards beyond academic integrity? It seems that we, as a society, know that there are some things that will not be acceptable, but even in 2010, we have failed to be explicit about what they are.

The demands that have been set forth by the people of color on all of these campuses barely scratch the surface for the amount of structural and institutional changes that are needed to address the broader climate issues.

The demands provide sound recommendations for addressing racial intolerance issues proactively and through a means of creating more spaces for cross-cultural engagement. The Afrikan Student Union at UCLA stands in solidarity with each and every demand brought forth by the people of color on their campuses and we are outraged at the lack of compassion and misdirected priorities of the administrations.

Lastly, I observe how the climate issues on our own campus, UCLA, have failed to be addressed and properly mitigated.

We are urging our campus to model the proactive prioritization of campus climate by implementing an aggressive diversity agenda that promotes tolerance, inclusion, cross-cultural engagement and awareness. Then and only then will we be able to ensure that the diversity that we eloquently boast about on our Web sites is true.

Matthews is a fourth-year psychology student and chair of the Afrikan Student Union.

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