The news we’re hearing out of UCSD has become increasingly disturbing. Last night around midnight students alerted administrators when a noose was found hanging in UCSD’s Geisel Library. The video above was taken this morning at a protest organized by students in response to last night’s developments.
It was never funny before, but so many of these students just don’t seem to understand that tension sparked by racist provocations will never be a joke. Students of color are downright terrified. The climate on campus, according to UCSD students we have spoken with, is tense. Students of color are rightfully angry, but also terrified for their safety. Throwing nooses around campus, that isn’t a joke. What I want to know is: why isn’t anyone calling the Compton Cookout, and the various racist incidents that have followed it, what we all know it is: a hate crime?
On Wednesday, students organized a walkout from a university-sponsored teach-in. Following the news of the Compton Cookout last week, staff from the the conservative faux-satire student publication, The Koala, left a note inside a campus television station office that said “Compton lynching” on it. Funding for the publication has since been cut off by the Associated Students of UCSD, the university’s student government.
Students are angry that even though university administrators like Chancellor Mary Anne Fox have been quick to respond in support of Black students on campus, they have also distanced themselves from the Compton Cookout incident. Campus administration initially mentioned that because the Compton Cookout was officially an off-campus event, no further action would be pursued against the perpetrators. They were quick to make public statements condemning the party, quick to host a teach-in to “explore why stereotypes still exist,” and quick to set up a website called Join the Battle Against Hate at UCSD. Helpful and positive, but not enough for students who want to see real policy and cultural changes.
And subsequent provocations are forcing administration to wake up to the racism in their midst. The Compton Cookout was organized by UCSD students who are affiliated with university-approved fraternities, now is not the time for university officials to try to distance themselves from the actions of its students or try to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the racial climate on campus.
What will it take for campus administration to take the incidents seriously enough to formally punish the students who’ve orchestrated these hateful crimes and begin to institute policy to change the culture on campus? Hopefully the organizing and continued pressure from students and faculty will force administrators to take this all seriously.
The student who hung the noose in Geisel has since come forward. “It’s someone who didn’t think that leaving a noose was an issue,” said Vice Chancellor Gary Mattews. A noose is never a joke.