Cultural student groups released a statement Thursday calling for UCLA and University of California leaders to affirm their support for the Asian Pacific Islander community, in response to a racist and sexist flier recently sent to the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.
The Asian Pacific Coalition at UCLA, the Pacific Islands Students Association at UCLA, Samahang Pilipino and the Vietnamese Student Union at UCLA, signed the statement, which was posted on the Asian Pacific Coalition’s website.
Thestatement claims that the incident is more than an isolated case of racism at UCLA, and asks UC President Janet Napolitano, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and other communities to voice their support for the Asian Pacific Islander community, as well as other students of color.
On Wednesday, students found out about the flier, which was sent anonymously to the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. The flier included numerous racist and sexist slurs, at one point saying “asian Cunts are RACIST! They only Date Honkie white boy!” It also included slurs directed toward white women and men and the Mexican community.
More than 20 other cultural organizations from other universities and UCLA, including the Afrikan Student Union at UCLA and American Indian Student Association at UCLA, also signed the letter in solidarity.
The statement also called for the advancement of ethnic studies programs at the UC and for administrators to prioritize initiatives that would support an “inclusive campus.”
“To allow these attacks to remain unaddressed … is to tacitly endorse the marginalization of our community, to accept being painted as perpetual foreigners, and to allow for the exotification and objectification of women of color,” the statement said.
Johnny Tran, the internal vice president of the Vietnamese Student Union, said he thinks the flier reflects ongoing problems with UCLA’s campus climate.
“Campus climate issues don’t just appear in these times where there’s mass media attention,” said Tran, a third-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student.
The statement referenced several incidents from recent years, including a viral “Asians in the Library” video from 2011 and the vandalism of a Vietnamese Student Union sign last year, both of which contained racial slurs directed at Asians. Some of the same language included in the recent flyer was also used to vandalize the sign last year.
Students also pointed to a recent report that found UCLA’s procedures for handling discrimination claims among faculty to be ineffective. The statement referenced one incident from the report, which came out in fall, when a faculty member was told, “I thought Asian women were supposed to be submissive.”
Additionally, Thursday’s statement mentions a 2012 report by UCLA law professor Richard Sander, which claimed that UCLA was violating Proposition 209 by taking race into account during the supplemental review portion of its holistic admissions process. The statement said the report, which sparked student backlash, contributed to the “hostile” racial climate at UCLA.
In response to the flier, the Undergraduate Students Association Council Office of the President issued a statement Thursday saying it supports the students affected by the incident.
“The disturbing document sent to the Asian American Studies (Center) serves as a reminder for why it is so important to reject the notion of a post-racial society,” said John Joanino, USAC president. “We all have the responsibility to ensure every student feels safe on campus.”
UCLA spokesman Steve Ritea said in an emailed statement that Block has reached out to leadership of the Asian American Studies Center to convey “his disgust and frustration” over the flier. Ritea said Block has asked university police to launch an investigation into the incident.
“UCLA takes these matters very seriously and is dedicated to working toward effective strategies to combat racism and bigotry so that campus can be the welcoming, respectful environment our community deserves,” Ritea said in the statement.