Brief Update on the UCSD Free Speech Controversy (Tuesday 2/23/10)

Alec Weisman, Editor-in-Chief
Contributions by California Review Editorial Board

So here are the updates over the last few hours.

First, a petition has started to try to defund the Koala. Most of the names don’t even belong to students at UCSD, and many are anonymous because people were too cowardly to write down their names. Apparently the petitioners for this were out on library walk as well, but I never saw them.

Next, we uncovered the Facebook group for the 2009 UCSD Students of Color Conference. Their concluding remark: “SOCC 2009 has been met with great enthusiasm here on the UC San Diego campus. We have the support of progressive student organizations, resource centers, faculty/staff, and outside community members” If the campus environment was welcoming in 2009, what is so drastically different in 2010 that the same groups are asking for the protection of the National Guard?

Then, at noon today, a rally was held by students at the UCSD School of Medicine. I have a few comments on this rally. For one, why were they wearing their UCSD lab coats? Also, since graduate student fees do not go to the Associated Students, why were they able to state that “We stand in complete solidarity with the BSU and the demands which they have made.” Their money has nothing to do with this situation or with media funding, but apparently they are just as demanding and self-centered.

*Editor’s note* This video was filmed sideways.

More “sensitivity training” occurred today at the “Revelle College Council – Open Forum Regarding Student Concerns” (emailed to Revelle students) and the Muir “Honest and Open Dialogue on Campus Climate”, at 4 and 5 pm respectively.

Also, in response to the controversy at UCSD, UC Riverside decided to get its share of the spotlight by highlighting some new figures showing that black students at UC Riverside graduate at a higher rate than the university’s overall student population.

Also, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has been tremendously helpful fighting for the media organizations at UCSD. Aside from sending letters to Chancellor Fox and AS President Utsav Gupta, FIRE also discovered a very similar incident to the Compton Cookout called the Ugly Woman Contest. A previous court case upheld that racial and offensive parties thrown by students in colleges are protected under the First Amendment.

The media has begun to improve its coverage of the controversy. Our articles continue to be cited by other news sources. Today the San Diego Union-Tribune referenced our blog (because the Koala refuses to comment to professional media unless the media outlet obeys Koala protocol).

Keep following the California Review for up to date information on this story.


  1. Thank you so much for keeping many of us up-to-date. I feel like I’ve been on top of it, but I haven’t been able to see any of the “protests” yet, and I’m glad you’ve got coverage. As a man of a more liberal persuasion, take it as a compliment that I tip my hat to you and your published work. If this nonsense continues — which is frankly utterly illegal — please feel free to contact me for a donation to keep your presses running. That goes for the Koala as well as TRTV(SRTV) as well. Keep it up!

  2. All of the Facebook groups we relied on for measly pieces of information have been “reported” and can’t be accessed. This has seriously crossed the line many times over now.

  3. haha, Koala protocol = buying them beer.

  4. My group got reported, but it has been cleared and is up and running again. 🙂

  5. Evil Dr. Yakub · ·

    Anyone watching the “Teach-In” right now? I would love to respond to every horrendously argued “point” that’s being made, but I suppose pointing out facts and asking tough questions (has anyone actually explained why the environment is “toxic” and how the administration is helping that?) is considered racist.

    Best line so far: “If you don’t believe me, I refer you to the library.” Yes, and the library tells me that you’re wrong.

    Runner-up: “If you don’t see anything wrong, take classes on these issues [of race and ethnicity.]” Of course, you’ll learn so much about oppression you’ll realize you were oppressing people without knowing it!

    The absurdity is breathtaking.

  6. This just got epic: the BSU people decided to stage a “spontaneous” walk-out because they were upset with the fact the “Teach-In” was organized by the UCSD administration. They are now out in the plaza, but they left banging drums and tambourines while a few in the audience (caught on camera) gave what looked like closed-fist black power salutes.

  7. the environment at ucsd is toxic because the bsu made it that way. when you walk out of a public teach-in because it was organized by the administration, you are a proponent of anarchy and chaos. congratulations, bsu, if that was your agenda. you have succeeded in becoming the face of hate at ucsd.

    looking forward to the response post to this mess.

  8. free speech is only for those who talk in favor of multiculturalism, liberalism, etc. etc.

    NOT for conservatives/libertarians.

  9. Vercingetorix · ·

    Let’s examine some of the “Facts” and arguments put forth at the televised “teach-in” (I would love to see if anyone has a recording or info on what went down at the “spontaneous” event too).


    “I was offended when the administration said there was nothing they could do because it was an off campus event…It is clearly stated that the vice-chancellor of student affairs has power over off-campus events” [2nd to last student to speak]

    This is entirely wrong and unlawful. The UCSD administration has no power over unofficial events hosted by students that take place off campus, particularly if no crime is committed. This is a First Amendment right.

    “Only two courses on Africa or Race and Ethnicity were offered in the History Department this quarter” [I think this is what she said, but I’m not sure; in any case, she implied that the History department did not offer enough race and ethnic history courses- this was the last speaker]

    UCSD’s history department already offers an entire introductory course every quarter on race and ethnicity to go with its 2 other introductory courses in US History and East Asian History (that sounds like plenty of emphasis on race to me). This quarter, the History Dept. is offering 3 courses on Africa, a course on African American legal history, a course on Mexican-American History, a course on women in America, a course on gender in antiquity, and a course on race and sexual politics in addition to the intro course. I count 9.


    “Our demands are not at all for separation.” [BSU students]

    Read their demands. They’re all about separation and special “privilege” (not in the abstract, theory sense either- very specific privileges with ethnically disproportionate results!).

    Other Arguments:

    “When I think about my gender and I know that I’m male, I know that gives me a lot of privilege…I have had entirely too many conversations with people who don’t understand because they haven’t first thought about their own privilege.” [Director of the LGBT Center]

    This is a classic argument used to shift the nature of any debate involving race, sex, age, size (yep, size-ism), disabilities, etc. from a discussion about the facts of the case to the identities of the people involved in the case. “Privilege” is a vague term bandied about quite often in the post-modern academic literature that acts as a catch-all term for any perceived inequality in outcome; graduate from a university? You’ve got privilege! Have a job? You’ve got privilege! Were born with above-average intelligence? You’ve got privilege! Their reasoning goes that if you have privilege, you simply cannot understand what other people without that privilege are thinking and thus any arguments you make are invalid. Despite being logically deficient, this is one of the most common arguments used to defend why nobody except “the oppressed” has a right to speak on these issues. (For the logical conclusion to some of the efforts made to “correct” privilege, see Harrison Bergeron)

    “Real Pain, Real Action” [T-shirts of BSU members]

    Like Abraham Lincoln did, I would like to introduce some “spot” resolutions: can you point me to the exact “spot” where people were “hurt”? Provide examples of how exactly people’s rights were violated? Show me where laws were broken? Prove to me how “pain” was a direct outcome of a Facebook event posting?

    “It’s not about you. It’s bigger than you.” [someone explaining why this incident was a big deal]

    This is a pretty blatant attack on individualism and ties many of these arguments into larger Marxist/socialist theories. According to this view, individuals don’t matter; it’s large groups, in this case ethnic groups, that do. Thus UCSD shouldn’t make admissions decisions about each individual student, they should look at all AA and Hispanic students as part of the same group and make admissions decisions about the group. Ironically, I’ve heard many anecdotes from ethnically minority students complain about how they’re always called upon to be the “ambassadors” for their group’s point of view in classes. The point of affirmative action and “diversity” is that those points of view could not possibly be represented by other non-ethnic students in the class, so the university needs to admit students to provide those points of view. If someone can actually logically explain how these two points of view can be reconciled, I will tip my hat to you.

    “Take classes on these issues if you don’t see anything wrong”

    Yes, take these classes and find out what? That you’ll fail the class if you don’t agree with the professor? This is the problem with trying to defer to academia on this issue; you’ll only get one side of the story because the whole point of having these classes is that there is only one “true” side to the story. If you disagree, you’re a privileged racist. The best way to avoid this would be to study these issues in regular sociology, anthropology, and history classes as parts of larger issues, but sadly that doesn’t seem to happen enough.

    “You’re allowed to have a white trash party, you’re white…so long as someone is being hurt, then something you’re doing is hurtful” [Visiting Professor who spoke]

    So is this the same line of argument addressing why the n-word is cool if you’re AA, but a sign of evil racism inside you if you’re white? I strongly disagree with the idea that people should be limited in their speech by their skin color (even informally; if you say something, it shouldn’t matter what your ethnic background is). Also, people get “hurt” by many things, and it’s their own right to be offended but NOT a right of other people to be forced to change their behavior to avoid that if it does not violate the laws of this nation. It’s like if I’m grading a paper and I comment that you failed to understand the argument, you have a right to feel “hurt” if you want, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad that I told you that you were wrong.

    “There is no trust on this campus…The atmosphere is toxic and hostile…It has become unbearable” “Unless the demographics change… I don’t know how much longer I can take it… the faculty and administration have fostered a toxic environment.” [Theater professor who spoke]

    All this without one actual example of a “toxic” environment, much less how the faculty and administration are at fault. I really would like to hear about what the administration has done “wrong” in the eyes of BSU (I personally think they erred by sending out emails that blew the whole thing out of proportion).

    Finally, a few good things that came out of the event:
    -The self-proclaimed “white guy” who offered a very earnest point of view that was completely “underrepresented” at the event.
    -The high school teacher from Compton at least provided facts about how Compton is majority Hispanic now.
    -The guy who got up there and said, “UCSD is institutionally racist. They sponsor the Che Cafe. I’m Cuban. Che killed my family. Thank you.”
    -The moderator was as a whole very fair and strongly encouraged students to respect the speakers and not pull a UCI. I respected her for that, even if she clearly seemed to sympathize with the “spontaneous” protest.

  10. In regards to the student walkout, large sections of the crowd were reported as being bussed in from UCLA and USC. Waiting for official verification on how much of the walkout was actually UCSD based.

  11. UCR and some CSUS also, along with, for some reason, students from Compton High.

  12. Speaking of the Che Cafe and Racism

    Quotes from The Motorcycle Diaries (the book):

    “The blacks, those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of an affinity with bathing, have seen their territory invaded by a new kind of slave: the Portuguese.”

    “The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations.”

    “The episode upset us a little because the poor man, apart from being homosexual and a first-rate bore, had been very nice to us, giving us 10 soles each, bringing our total to 479 for me and 163 1/2 to Alberto.”

    “The first person we hit on was the mayor, someone called Cohen; we had heard a lot about him, that he was Jewish as far as money was concerned but a good sort.”

  13. Benito Juarez · ·

    I will tell you what I have seen these last few days, I saw people from different backgrounds, my children, my brothers and sisters come together in solidarity, and got the message heard.

    This reminds me of a parable from the good book where a Levite and Priest come upon a man who fell among thieves and they both individually passed by and didn’t stop to help him. Finally a man of another race came by, he got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy and got down with the injured man, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.

    You see, the Levite and the Priest were afraid, they asked themselves, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”

    But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

    That’s the question before us. The question is not, “If I stop to help my brother in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help my brother, what will happen to him or her?” That’s the question.

    God bless all my brothers and sister that stood side by side with our brothers and sisters in need, when you saw a wrong you tried to correct it, you may argue the methods but not the reasons. I know God will not discriminate by country of origin, our sex, our orientation, color of our skin, or our religion as men do.

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