Angered by racially charged incidents on campus and proposed changes to the non-Western and ethnicity general education requirements, a group of students are demanding action from the university.
The Hate Incident Coalition, a group of students concerned with hate crimes and incidents on campus, has organized a petition to protest the possible reformation of the ethnicity and non-Western culture general education requirements. Today is the last day to sign the petition before it is sent to the Faculty Association. Group coordinator Marshall Higa said coalition members are upset about the proposed changes to the G.E.s because education is key to curbing racism, and that eliminating certain G.E.s will perpetuate ignorance.
If changed, the non-Western culture requirement would be eliminated and the existing Western civilization requirement would be imposed campuswide.
“If we replace non-Western with Western civilization requirements, we’re saying it’s OK to do hate acts. We are saying it’s OK to learn about yourselves and not us and not appreciate our culture,” Legislative Council Representative-at-Large Christine Corpuz said.
The ethnicity requirement would also be altered. The resulting ethnic studies requirement could be fulfilled by any class on the history and cultural, intellectual and social experience of Native Americans, African-Americans, Chicanos, Latinos or Asian-Americans. The current ethnicity requirement specifies that the class must focus on the experiences of these peoples in the United States.
In addition to asking students to sign the petition, the group has called for students to write letters and e-mails to faculty members to express their discontent. The group wants faculty to vote against the proposed changes to the G.E. requirements at their meeting Nov. 24 and to pressure the Academic Senate to vote them down Dec. 13. The group is calling for the Academic Senate to postpone its final vote, or reject changes to the G.E. requirements.
The group is also asking for Residence Hall Association and university policies to be amended to reduce the number of hate incidents on campus. The group may find further grounds for its case after a recent racially charged incident in an on-campus residence hall.
Just after midnight on Nov. 7, a 17-year-old male Latino student was involved in a fight with his male African-American suitemate in San Rafael Hall. The first student used racial slurs but the suitemate did not press assault charges, UC Police Dept. Chief John MacPherson said. Because the victim did not press charges, the perpetrator was prosecuted only for drunkenness rather than the fight and it was classified as a hate incident.
This follows an Oct. 10 hate incident in San Nicolas Hall in which unidentified men threw eggs into the fifth floor Asian and Pacific Islander Cultural Studies Interest Hall and yelled racial slurs. Damages resulting from the incident totaled less than $500 so police determined a crime had not occurred and it was labeled a hate incident.
The difference between a “hate incident” and a “hate crime” is a legal one. In order for an incident to be labeled as a hate crime, the victim must press charges and the suspect must be found guilty of the crime. Then, it must be determined that the crime was motivated solely by the victim’s personal characteristics. If the suspect is found guilty of both the initial crime and a hate crime, the person’s original sentence can be increased.
According to the latest Clery Act Campus Security Report, only one hate crime has occurred on campus in the last three years. Because under the Clery Act the university only has to report proven crimes, this number only reflects a fraction of incidents that resemble hate crimes.
Some students say recent occurrences have been mislabeled as hate incidents instead of hate crimes simply because not enough property was damaged.
“Should I ask a person to not only scream racial epithets at me, but also ask them to break my stereo at the same time, just for it to be called a crime?” sophomore political science and Chicano studies Corina Garcia said.
A flier posted by Stop Campus Hate and the Asian Resource Center listed three other hate incidents that occurred in the last year. They include a resident hall adviser being verbally harassed with anti-Mexican slurs in October, two women from Francisco Torres being told, “Niggers, go back to your floor” in May, and anti-Semitic phrases sprayed on the walls of Manzanita Village in April, prior to its opening.
Higa said the administration had not responded adequately to the incidents.
“We had hoped we wouldn’t have to put out fliers,” Higa said. “But no one addressed this or put out press releases, no administrators or residence hall directors.”
Residence hall directors have responded to the incident in San Nicolas Hall. Meetings were held on each floor of San Nicolas on Oct. 15 to inform students about the incident. Hate Incident Response Coordinator Brandon Brod said he, San Nicolas Resident Director Seth Avakian, Assistant Resident Director Jina Ippilitto and Residential Life Assistant Director Linda Croyle held mandatory meetings on each floor, including the fifth floor, where the incident occurred.
“This type of behavior is totally unacceptable,” Avakian told the Nexus Oct. 21. “We don’t accept it in our community.”
The university has also responded to the incident. CSOs scheduled extra patrols through the building in the evenings, and the UCPD was alerted of the situation, as was Dean of Students Yonie Harris. Meetings were held with concerned students at the Office of Student Life after the incident, Brod said.
Some students feel the university also has not done enough in response to hate incidents on campus.
Quoting Chancellor Henry T. Yang from the general catalog, Senior law and society major Khixaan Obioma-Sakhu said, “‘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.’ How can he have this printed and then ignore the recent hate incident?”