Offensive graffiti directing a message toward undocumented students that read, “Deportation = Justice; Deport Illegals NOW,” was found on the window of the entrance to Building 406, also known as El Centro, on Sunday.
El Centro is the main meeting place for the student organization UCSB Improving Dreams, Equality, Access, and Success, or UCSB I.D.E.A.S., in addition to other campus groups. I.D.E.A.S. seeks to provide undocumented students on campus with “financial, academic and emotional support” through services such as scholarships and workshops, according to its site.
In response to the incident, Chancellor Henry T. Yang and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young issued a statement to the campus community expressing the administration’s contempt for the discriminatory message and communicating the university’s intent to act as an institution that is “open, inclusive and welcoming to all.”
“We are deeply disturbed by this act of vandalism, particularly in a location that has great historical significance for the development of Chicana and Chicano Studies on our campus, and has long served as an important gathering place for student organizations and a safe space for our students, faculty and staff,” Yang and Young said in the statement.
This is not the first time undocumented students have been targeted at the university, according to a press release issued by I.D.E.A.S., which stated that an Associated Students representative called undocumented students “illegals who should not be attending this university in the first place,” at an A.S. meeting earlier this year.
“This action is not isolated to the undocumented community, nor does it represent the thoughts of a few individuals on this campus,” the I.D.E.A.S. press release stated. “This incident reflects the institutional barriers that our marginalized student communities experience both on and off this campus.”
In regard to such incidents, university administration has pledged to stay committed to eliminating intolerance, while also honoring diversity and promoting a “campus tradition of dialogue and mutual respect,” particularly in lieu of discriminatory acts like the vandalism on El Centro, Yang and Young said in the statement.
“As we continue to investigate and take immediate action to respond to this incident, we would also like to reaffirm that there is no place at UC Santa Barbara for acts of intolerance directed toward any member of our community,” Yang and Young stated.
In light of this incident, I.D.E.A.S. hopes to educate the collective student consciousness concerning bigotry on campus.
“We will hold our UCSB faculty, student representatives and the UC system as a whole accountable to the University of California’s ongoing commitment toward providing a welcoming and safe space to all students,” the I.D.E.A.S. press release stated.
PHOTO COURTESY OF Gloria Campos