Alec Weisman, Editor-in-Chief
Contributions by California Review Editorial Board
Last weekend, individuals from several fraternities decided to throw a racially-themed party mocking Black History Month, called the “Compton Cookout.” This ghetto-themed party was definitely offensive, as it urged people to wear specific outfits and fulfill various stereotyped behaviors. The party was obviously meant to be funny although the theme was definitely in poor taste.
In response, the administration of UCSD sent out not one, not two, but three emails within a week condemning the party. The email urged that respect for the UCSD Principles of Community be observed by rejecting acts of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs and asked that students come together to show support for the black community at UCSD. Although the initial letter from Penny Rue, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, urged that the “The remedy for dangerous, offensive or extreme speech is more speech, not less,” this attitude was not to last.
On Thursday, Koala TV decided to capitalize on the excessive reaction of the administration by ridiculing the school and critics of the party. It is claimed that the Koala used certain derogatory words to describe black individuals, and commented that the critics of the party were ungrateful for a party thrown in their honor. However, this is in the nature of the Koala, which is written to deliberately offend every race, religion, and belief system. In fact, the leadership organization of the Koala is made up of exclusively minority students this year.
Following this, the Black Student Union held a rally on Friday, which nearly 200 students attended. Holding signs reading “Racism= individual, institutional, systemic, structural” and “Stop Racism” the Black Student Union was furious about insensitivity at UCSD. After screaming at the Chancellor “Real Action! Real Pain!” dialogue began between students in the Black Student Union and Chancellor Fox. Allegations were made by several students that “we are in danger! It’s that serious” along with claiming that they feel “isolated every day on this campus.”
Both Chancellor Fox and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Rue expressed their strong dislike for the Koala and their free speech. The students at the rally showed themselves to be extremely self-centered, believing themselves to be entitled to all their demands; one of them screamed “I’m expecting all kinds of action from you, and all of these demands to be met, as soon as possible. Meaning Now!”
It was particularly depressing to watch some of the legitimate concerns of the BSU become sidelined as the crowd adopted a mob mentality. The rally became a joke, as half of the rally concerned students ranting about justice and the other half consisted of demands and threats made to the administration. During the Chancellor forum, one student stood up and said “The facts are people are hurting right now. The facts are that people are threatened right now. The facts are is that we need change right now. Those are the facts that you need to take into account. Those are the facts that are all you need.” This is extremely troublesome, as the entitlement of these angry students displays their lack of concern for legal procedure and the Constitution.
Looking at the the list of demands made by the Black Student Union in their 16 page “Do UC Us” report, they list an assortment of studies and testimonials regarding black students on UC campuses, with emphasis on UCSD.
In fact, their goals for making black students feel comfortable on campus are reasonable and should be supported. They include:
• Phone-A-Thons: Have BSU members call admitted Black students
• Black Admit Welcome Package: includes a Welcome DVD, letter from BSU and UJIMA, Black Directory, Postcard invitation to Admit Day, and a T-shirt/lanyard
• Black Admit Overnight Program for the 2010 UC San Diego Admitted African-American Students
UPDATE (8:00 pm, 2/21/10) The real list of demands is far more shocking than those four presented in the Do UC us Report. To view the 32 Demands made by the BSU during their rally click here or scroll to the bottom of the article
The disconcerting fact is, although the BSU is
rational, many of those people participating in the rally and forum were not. Many of the students’ arguments amounted to promoting equality of result rather than equality of opportunity. This flies in the face of American notions of freedom and equality. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, which eliminated the consideration of race for admission to college campuses and government hiring. This ended the quota system previously in existence whereby a student of a minority background could be accepted with lower grades to a university over a much more qualified student of a different ethnic group in order to fill a specific quota required by law.
Although UCSD has the lowest proportion of black students at a UC campus, as blacks represent 1.5 percent of students at UCSD, this statistic is misleading without reference to both the overall racial distribution of UCSD students and that of the state population as a whole. According to census estimates, in 2008 California consisted of 42.3% white individuals, 6.7% black individuals, 12.5% Asian individuals, 36.6% Hispanic individuals, and 1.9% being either American Indian, Pacific Islander, or mixed race. If we look at this in comparison to UCSD admissions, we get a stark contrast. Although black underrepresentation (7% of state population, 2% of UCSD students) relative to their fraction of state population is nothing to scoff at, whites (42.3% of state population, 26% of UCSD students) and Hispanics (36.6% of state population, 13% of UCSD students) are also seriously underrepresented under that metric. Who takes up the largest proportional increase then? Asians, who comprise a 49% plurality of UCSD undergraduate admits despite being only 12.5% of the state’s population. So before the irrational and emotional students freak out about the underrepresented black population, they should look at their own over or underrepresented population at UCSD and decide how they feel about their poorly thought out quota idea. However, the poor choices of the school administration continued.
As the forum progressed, Vice Chancellor Rue added to the irresponsible remarks, stating that there will be no “Racism, not in our community! That’s what we can say! We need more speech. We might not be able to shut them up, but our voices can be so loud that they cannot be heard!” What part of this behavior that Chancellor Rue advocates is any different from the behavior of those students during Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine? Shouting down people who you disagree with only serves to limit free speech. Now as stated before, any comments made by the Koala that were intended to provoke and insult the black community were made for that purpose, NOT to generate hate or crimes against black students.
As the forum began to conclude, AS president Utsav Gupta stated that “I’ve frozen all media organization funding until we rework these rules … It is still unacceptable that we still have the Koala. We’ve tried throughout this year to redo those rules and essentially not fund them. I don’t know if we’ll get rid of them, but on the part of the AS, we can defund them. We absolutely can defund them, and I believe we must defund them.” On this point, I must add (although I consider Utsav to be a good AS president and know him personally) that by admitting this fact on camera, he outed the Associated Students as being full of liars, as they swore during a media forum that their legislative attempt to form a media oversight board was not explicitly targeted toward the Koala. Utsav concluded by stating that “from this point forth no media organizations will get funding” until new media guidelines have been written.
Now why is the California Review weighing in on this story? First, we feel that the reaction of the school is excessive. Next, although we feel that the comments made by the Koala and the party organizers were inappropriate, THEY ARE NONETHELESS permitted by their freedom of speech. Third, we are directly affected by this media freeze, as up to this point we have been totally funded by the AS UCSD. Finally, it was brought to my attention that the California Review has been brought into the controversy by a staff writer of the Union Tribune due to our “Underwear Bomber” cartoon during the January issue of the paper.
In fact, we had to do a reprint of the issue because certain staff refused to allow it to be distributed until their names were removed from the issue and they were allowed to resign. As editor, I would like to state that although the cartoon was an anonymous contribution to the California Review, it was intended to be a satirical representation of the Underwear Bomber and RADICAL ISLAM, in a similar vein to the Danish Cartoons that were published in 2005. The cartoon was thus drawn to prove free speech existed on campus, and this was believed to be the case UNTIL this controversy over the party and the Koala arose.
The best part of the drama has got to be the latest few updates in this twisted story.
First, apparently the party was the brainchild, not of the frat boys, but rather the DJ for the event, who just so happens to call himself Jiggaboo Jones. He recently posted a youtube video explaining the real nature of the “Compton Cookout.” In it he called out the Black Student Union, the UCSD administration, and the Associated Students for blowing the event out of proportion.
Also, on Saturday February 20th, a facebook event was created by a UCSD student planning a Cultural Stereotypes Party, designed to allow people to pick a culture and harmlessly make fun of its stereotypes. The event is scheduled for March 4 at 8pm. And parties with offensive racial themes continue to draw students who want a good laugh and a stereotypical theme. To attend the “Compton Cookout Part Deux” click this link. Also, a facebook group has been established for everyone who is angry with the reaction that the school and media have had toward the “Compton Cookout,” click this link. Finally, another group was established for those angry with the Associated Students for shutting down free speech at UCSD, click this link.
Finally, state lawmakers (outgoing state Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D) and incoming speaker John Perez (D) in particular) are showing their desire to play race politics by jumping on this issue and urging for sanctions and suspensions against the students who were involved in the “Compton Cookout” party. Also the NAACP got involved and urged similar punishments. Compton Assemblymember Isiadore Hall III also got involved in condemning the Compton Cookout.
Is this Political Correctness gone crazy? You be the judge.
In the meantime, please stand with us to oppose the UCSD AS’s attempt to destroy free speech.
More articles on this to come. In the meantime, please weigh in and comment.
• We demand a Permanent Task Force to fund more outreach efforts and create more opportunities for hiring African-American Faculty.
• We demand the University fully fund the traditional and non-traditional events of the Black Student Union in our efforts to create a better climate for ourselves.
• Match Funds with Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service (SPACES) budget including the Student Initiated Access Program and Services (SIAPS) and Academic Success Program (ASP) budgets.
Black Student Union Statement February 2010
• We demand that every time the freshmen class enrollment is cut the University matches the student fees that they would have been paying to SPACES permanently to SPACES.
• We demand that Chancellor Fox uses more energy and resources to providing research based scholarships for African-American students as apart of a retention component from the Chancellor’s Diversity Office.
• Demand the University to increase the African-American populations in all areas of the campus including, Students (undergraduates and graduates), PhD Candidates, Faculty, Staff and Administration.
• We demand the University directly fully fund Faculty-Student Mentor Programs.
• We demand the University staff the vacant Program Coordinator position of the African-American Studies Minor
• We demand the Chancellor’s office make the African-American Studies Minor and the Chicano Latina/o Arts and Humanities Minor a priority for the University.
• We demand the University to charge a Task Force to create the plan for an African-American Resource Center on Campus in two years to provide a safe space for the African-American community.
• We demand that Chancellor Fox create an Office for Diversity Affairs from her administration instead of a part-time position with a title.
• We demand the Chancellor fully funds the Chief Diversity Office.
• We demand a change of Admissions Policy from a Comprehensive to a Holistic Review beginning for the Fall 2011 applicant pool.
• We demand campus climate becomes the Chancellor’s number one priority, especially in this time of crisis.
• We demand Chancellor Fox and the University have mutual respect of the “Principles of Community” and create a precedent of prioritizing students of color and leading by example. When demand that there be repercussions when the “Principles of Community” are blatantly being violated.
• We demand the Chancellor’s Office charges the Campus Climate Commission that will work primarily on improving the campus climate and providing a safer and more welcoming space and experience for the students of underrepresented communities and the entire student body.
• We demand a permanent quarterly and annual campus climate report from this Campus Climate Commission. This Campus Climate Commission must report directly to SAAC.
Black Student Union Statement February 2010
• We demand the University create a space in the central part of campus safe for African-American students on campus.
• We demand the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Chief Diversity Office meet with the chair and vice chair of the Black Student Union at least once every academic quarter.
• We demand the University provide financial education and counseling, teaching students from low-income, underprivileged communities how to manage their money being independent college students.
• We demand that the University sends out a campus-wide email presenting the Black Student Union’s Do UC us? Campaign Report on Yield of African-American students immediately.
• We demand the University live up to it’s “Principles of Community” and show leadership and integrity by giving up the remains of the Kumeeay tribe and respect the native land on which we are housed.
• We demand three permanent designated spaces for African-American inspired art to reflect the struggle and progress for students of color on this campus.
• We demand that Chancellor Fox fully funds this Art space. We demand that the moral “Chicano Legacy” become a permanent art piece on this campus. We demand that Native American, Latino and Asian-Pacific Islander cultural art is reflected publicly on this campus.
• We demand Chancellor Fox and the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, and the Academic Senate mandate a diversity sensitivity requirement for every undergraduate student to take an African-American studies, Ethnic Studies, and Gender Studies before they graduate from UC San Diego.
• We demand the programs and departments such as OASIS, Campus Community Centers, Ethnic Studies, Critical Gender Studies, CLAH, and African American Studies Minor amongst others continue to have solid funding for the work they do in retaining African American students and educating the campus as a whole.
• We demand the University implements, maintains and fully funds BSU’s Student Initiated Yield Programs.
• Stipend for Student Volunteers- students deserves compensation for the hard work they do that the University should be doing.
• We demand that the Chancellor’s Office offers more campus-wide support for the African-American students on this campus, as well as the other historically underrepresented and under-served communities on this campus.
Black Student Union Statement February 2010
• We demand the University provide the African-American community with a temporary location for a safe space on campus while the African-American Resource Center is being planned and constructed.
• We demand the University provide free tutors for the African-American students who seek academic support. This can be structured similar to that of the Athletic Department’s services to Athletes.
• We demand a response!
February 20th, 2010: Compton Cookout. The Koala would like to condemn the organizers of the Compton Cookout. If history has shown us anything, you need more black people at your party to have enough black-on-black violence to actually justify the name “Compton.” Shame on you. SHAME.