Thursday, September 21

UCLA students must work to create a hate-free campus


Hateful words, written on the door of a North Village apartment last week, stirred strong emotional backlash that underscored the malicious nature of the crime.

At the same time, the words brought the crucial importance of reporting and preventing hate crimes into sharp focus.

The slurs, directed at the Mexican community and at women, provoked an immediate response. Students demonstrated against discrimination on Thursday, and members of other minority communities said they identified with the hurtful consequences that words and actions can create.

Such incidents can be reported to police, the dean of students office or online at www.reportincidents.ucla.edu. The importance of taking such steps cannot be understated. University police investigate each report. Once police or administrators are aware of an incident, such as a hate crime or racial or homophobic slurs, the way is paved for preventative action.

The board commended the students involved for reporting the crime, which led to a frank, honest discussion in its wake.

UCPD has not yet identified any suspects. Detectives are following leads, but the ones who committed the crime have yet to emerge.

In his quarterly meeting with the Daily Bruin editorial board on Friday, Chancellor Gene Block called the incident “deplorable.” He also cited the need for more details about the perpetrators, who may not necessarily be students.

The chancellor noted that the incident also reminds the UCLA community “why we have to be vigilant.”

“(UCLA) is not a community free from prejudice,” Block said.

He pointed to UCLA’s efforts to improve understanding about diversity. An honors collegium focusing on conflict resolution is being offered next quarter, and a cluster of fiat lux courses, including one taught by Block, are focusing on topics in diversity. UCLA has also created a position for an assistant dean of campus climate this year.

Such steps do deserve applause. And campus climate is a constant work-in-progress. But the impact in the academic sphere is ultimately limited. On one hand, students enrolled in the courses will be encouraged to be proactive and disseminate the information on a greater scale.

Yet, students enrolling in classes on diversity are very much self-selected. It’s the students who don’t enroll in such classes and are farthest away from conversations that need to be drawn in by more active means.

The bottom line: It’s up to us, as UCLA students. From malicious attacks such as Monday’s incident to offhand comments with a hurtful impact, we have the individual power to take steps to make this campus a safe and accepting environment.

Join the conversation. Keep up the discussion. That’s only the first step, but it’s in the right direction.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board

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