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Editorial: Administration responsible for addressing racist stickers in time

By Editorial Board

May 7, 2015 1:15 a.m.

Administrators’ response to a recent targeted attack against a campus community has been disappointingly neutral and failed to take advantage of an opportunity to address problems concerning race on campus.

Last week, self-made stickers were posted on the bulletin board outside of the Afrikan Student Union and a few other spaces on campus, displaying bigoted and offensive statements concerning the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Until an interview with the Daily Bruin Editorial Board on Monday, UCLA administration remained strangely silent about the stickers, offering neither a condemnation of the racist act nor a voice of support for the black student community on campus. This slow reaction to the appearance of the stickers is particularly disheartening considering Chancellor Gene Block’s timely responses to other instances of bigotry on campus.

Earlier this year, when offensive posters accusing Students for Justice in Palestine of anti-Semitism were spotted around campus, Block took two days to respond with a campus-wide email.

Block has consistently responded in a timely manner this year to instances of hate or intolerance against the communities involved in the heated debate over UC divestment from companies that some say profit from alleged human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

All issues concerning race and ethnicity on campus should be treated with the same level of concern and invoke the same kind action from school administrators.

In his interview Monday with the board, Block said that his decision to not immediately address the racist incident last week stemmed from a desire to avoid drawing attention to the issue. He said that each situation attacking a community on campus merits its own separate response.

But his failure to issue a timely response was a failure to adequately support a community on campus that, as of today, makes up only 4 percent of the entire student body at UCLA. Racist incidents on campus – especially incidents this direct and despicable – cannot and should not be swept under the rug.

During the Editorial Board interview with Block Monday, UCLA Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Janina Montero provided a letter to the Daily Bruin criticizing the “inflammatory” nature of the stickers. The letter was published in Tuesday’s paper.

Montero’s response came considerably later than students needed and expected, and it also failed to truly condemn the stickers for what they were: an unequivocally bigoted, hateful attack on an already vulnerable and underrepresented campus community.

While the perpetrators of the racist stickers are unknown, the essence of the action must be more adequately addressed. The offending party cannot be identified and therefore cannot be directly disciplined, but the intention behind the episode could and should be more directly tackled by those in power.

This issue is far from over. Just yesterday, yet another round of stickers was found on campus by the Charles E. Young Research Library and Campbell Hall. Their messages targeted the issue of illegal immigration, once again invoking insensitive and damaging rhetoric. The administration has yet to respond to this event.

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