Colleges across the country continue to experience incidents of racially-motivated hate. A recent New York Times article, “Colorblind Notion Aside, Colleges Grapple With Racial Tension,” speaks to the uncomfortable reality of racial tension on college campuses, which is sparking a new wave of student activism.
Schools can be more proactive in preventing hate crimes through diversity training for faculty, establishing an office of campus diversity, and by incorporating diversity research in the faculty tenure process, according to a recent report by sociologist Susan Murray. San Jose State University is re-evaluating Murray’s recommendations after a recent high profile hate crime in the school’s freshman dorms.
This roundup highlights three specific incidents where students came together to respond to hate crimes and mounting tensions on their campus. Learn more about student action at niot.org/notonourcampus.
USC and UCLA student leaders combat on-campus racism
USC and UCLA student leaders are teaming up in response to racism on campus, specifically an incident regarding a flier with derogatory language targeting Asian-American women.
“We wanted to collaborate because these are not campus-to-campus issues,” Uyen Hoang, director of UCLA’s Asian Pacific Coalition told NBC Los Angeles. “This is a community issue and a perception of Asian women that has been around for decades.”
On-campus groups from both schools received identical copies of a flier that used racist and sexist language specifically targeting Asian-American women.
Asian-Pacific Islander students from both universities hosted a joint town hall at UCLA to raise awareness of racialized hate speech, especially as it involves racism against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. USC leaders also penned a response to the flier that spoke to the flier’s intention to “pit people of color against one another,” and student leaders from both schools have held on-campus rallies and panels to discuss the fliers.
“I am especially proud of the way students at USC and UCLA have responded,” USC’s Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry wrote in an email to the USC student body. “Our diversity is a point of pride and strength for us, and an asset to our community.”
Read the rest of the story at NBC Los Angeles.
Black UCLA law students frustrated at underrepresentation in school
Black students at the UCLA School of Law released a video sharing their experiences and expressing their views on the need for better representation on campus, according to The University Herald.
The video was released as part of an awareness campaign titled “33.” The title refers to the fact that only 33 out of the nearly 1,100 students at the law school are black. Students in the video speak about feeling isolated, marginalized, and stereotyped because of their underrepresentation. One student spoke about her belief that disagreeing with a professor in class had resulted in peers labeling her as an “angry black woman.”
“The fact that I was a black woman played a lot into why people stopped listening to me. I felt like if there were maybe more black women in the class, maybe just five of us, people could have seen more of a variation in our responses to what was going on in class and what I felt like was sexism in the classroom,” she said.
Law students hosted an event that brought together the various on-campus groups representing people of color. According to the Daily Bruin, around 120 law students wearing shirts that read “33/1100” attended the event, which was held in the school’s courtyard.
UCLA Law School Deam Rachel Moran said in an email statement that she was aware of the event and understood student frustration.
“I have been working with my administration to provide opportunities that facilitate constructive conversations for all of our students, and we will continue to foster these discussions,” wrote Moran.
Potential hate crimes charges for racist frat vandals at Ole Miss
Three 19-year-old fraternity brothers have been expelled from their frat, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and may face hate crime charges for putting a noose around a statue of James Meredith, the first black student to attend Ole Miss, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The man who found the vandalized statue said that two men seen walking away from the scene were uttering racial slurs, including “white power.” The men also left behind a Confederate flag. Since the incident, Sigma Phi Epsilon has been indefinitely suspended by the college.
“These events continue to happen semester after semester and year after year,” said the student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian in an editorial. “All of our actions seem fruitless and impotent, leaving us broken, scared, humiliated and with burning, difficult questions: What do we do about it? How do we stop these events from transpiring?”
Ole Miss students responded to the vandalization with a “people protest” which involved more than 50 students gathering around the Meredith statue to discuss their feelings about the incident. “We have a responsibility to the university, to our classmates and to the value of our education to do something about this,” said Vice President Morgan Gregory to the Daily Mississippian.
In the past, Ole Miss students have taken a stand against racist hate speech and Ku Klux Klan organizing on campus. The Klan counter-rally was featured in the Not In Our Town program, Class Actions. Read more about this story and link to the program here.