“UCSB has a tradition of emphasizing both our undergraduate and graduate programs, with a friendly environment in which students, staff and faculty from richly diverse backgrounds and perspectives can explore and learn together. The intellectual diversity that is crucial to our scholarly community is paired with a demographic diversity that distinguishes UCSB.”
-UCSB General Catalog by Chancellor Henry Yang.
We, as concerned members of the university community, note a huge discrepancy in the policies and promises of the university and the realities of the university climate. There is a growing sense of unspoken tension among our community that has culminated as hate crimes and the current attack on the General Education non-Western culture requirements. Go to www.senate.ucsb.edu and click on General Education Reform.
Although our own personal institutional memories only span a short time period, we as students at UCSB must remember that a student protest for a Black Studies Dept. was the beginning of a series of student movements that led to the creation of the Chicano Studies, Asian American Studies and Women’s Studies departments. They were all created because students demanded that this campus’ educational policies and diversity commitment fall in line with the promises the university had made. Students have led protests, sit-ins and hunger strikes to ensure that the university puts its word into action. Why put it all on the line? Why resort to protests and hunger strikes? Because students felt that they did not have any other option or mechanism to make the university recognize the problem with having a Eurocentric curriculum.
A lot of students may not know that the College of Letters and Science has not always had the various requirements like non-Western culture. Even though these requirements were demanded and met, the UCSB climate has not changed since their inception. Students are currently dealing with various hate crimes that have not been sufficiently dealt with.
As recent as Oct. 10, 2002, a group of students yelled racial slurs and threw egg yolks at some Asian students on the Asian/Pacific Islander interest floor in San Nicolas Hall. Last year, two African-American women were subjected to the same type of terror when they were told to, “Go back to your floor, niggers,” while living at Francisco Torres. Such acts are offensive, and sweeping them under the rug is a contradiction to the “richly diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” touted by Chancellor Henry Yang and implicitly supported by Dr. Michael Young, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
The effort to subdue the truth of the said acts does more to perpetuate institutional racism than dismantle it, so it is incumbent upon us to confront issues of racism head-on as a collective community.
Therefore, let us reflect and tap into the power of the struggle students before us fought for and use education to address institutional racism and its symptoms.
Chrystine Lawson is the A.S. president and Khixaan Obioma-Sakhu is an Academic Senate student representative.