A recent hate crime in the Black/African-American Studies interest floor of Santa Rosa Residence Hall has spurred students to spread the word about racism on campus, even by going door to door to do it.
While the majority of the students from the floor was away at the African Black Coalition (ABC) Conference on April 29, the words “Fuck Niggers” were written on the women’s bathroom door, Josiah Bournes, the resident assistant of the floor, said. He said a police report was filed on Monday but there are currently no leads as to who wrote the racial slur.
About 25 of the 44 residents in the hall were away at the conference and only about 10 students were there around the time when the incident occurred.
Meagan Turner, a first-year microbiology major and floor resident, said her hallmates were very upset when they first heard about the crime.
“First of all, we were shocked that someone would have the [audacity] to do [that],” she said.
The following Wednesday, Bournes said, the residents of the hall gathered together to discuss the incident and later met with members of the Black Student Union to decide what actions to take.
Britney Louise Foster, the ABC co-chair and statewide alliance representative for BSU, said that during the meeting students drafted a letter for Chancellor Henry T. Yang to sign. The next day, Yang, as well as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young and Dean of Students Yonnie Harris, signed their own letter reacting to the incident. Robert Donerson, assistant director of Residential Life, signed another letter addressing the vandalism.
Foster said about 25 students helped to distribute the two letters door to door in Santa Rosa Hall, as well as other halls. Last night, students continued to distribute letters in San Nicolas Hall.
When she first handed out the letters in the halls, Foster said, many were unaware of the situation.
“When I personally handed out fliers, the majority didn’t know that it happened in their building,” she said. “Many were empathetic and wanted to show support.”
Bournes said the majority of the people he has encountered while going door to door have been supportive.
“There’s definitely people that have been apathetic, but we haven’t encountered anyone that’s been hostile,” he said.
When she first heard of the incident, Foster said her immediate reaction was hurt and anger.
“People might feel very safe on this campus, but hate crimes are still happening,” she said.
In addition to passing out the letters to residents on campus, Foster said BSU members and floor residents are in the process of setting up a meeting with Harris and others to discuss what can be done to educate the campus about the incident.
“[We want] to let the campus know that the African-American community doesn’t stand for this,” Foster said. “We want to move on this as quickly as possible, because if we don’t move quickly people tend to forget about the incident.”
Ikia Fletcher, a first-year business economics major and resident of the floor, said that this is not the first time she has encountered racism.
“We can’t stop racism, but we want people to acknowledge what it does,” she said. “I remember back in the third grade someone told me that I was blacker than a piece of construction paper.”
The students will meet again Wednesday at 9:15 p.m. in the Santa Rosa formal lounge to discuss further actions, including the possibility of going into Isla Vista to inform residents there about the hate crime.
Bournes said in addition to passing out the letters, an e-mail list has been set up as a way to contact students interested in helping with the cause, the address of which is firstname.lastname@example.org.