In a recent issue of the Daily Nexus, a white student arguing against the perceived “institutional persecution” of Greek life at our school claimed that no other demographic at this school faces the same persecution and condemnation as members of Greek life. Any student of color reading that statement must have been upset that, once again, the struggle of non-white students had been thrown under the bus so that white men, who pay thousands of dollars a year in order to live a Greek lifestyle, could claim that they experience institutional oppression. However, the comments made in that article are hardly surprising considering the degree to which white students and faculty at UCSB fail to address issues of racism.
I’m not here to call for the abolishment of Greek life because it represents patriarchal violence and the production of that catch-all word “connections,” which basically translates to “economically privileged social connections that ultimately decide your position in capitalism.” It’s no surprise that 48 percent of Presidents, 42 percent of Senators, 30 percent of Congress members and 40 percent of Supreme Court Justices have been a part of Greek life — this is hardly a group of people that faces “institutional persecution and condemnation.” If Greek life has any negative stigma attached to it, it is because of the very real occurrence of rape that happens at fraternities; this is an issue that our campus has been painfully slow in dealing with. When a woman was attacked by a group of Asian men on the street in 2013, we spent weeks posting flyers and borderline racist police caricatures in an attempt to identify the perpetrators.
However, we know that rape happens on a weekly basis in the fraternities of Isla Vista, yet rarely are the perpetrators’ faces plastered around the school; this is, of course, implying that the perpetrators receive any consequences at all. In Women, Race & Class, Angela Davis describes the way in which white men are allowed to use institutional power to commit sexual assault without the fear of consequences; meanwhile, men of color are culturally situated as the primary aggressors in sexual violence. This dynamic is apparent culturally — think of the popular catcalling video made by a white woman last year that became viral. The men featured in that video were overwhelmingly men of color, despite the fact that all men are responsible for patriarchal violence against women. This dynamic again is reproduced on our campus, where white men (and now up to five percent non-white men #liberalprogress) who can afford membership in fraternities are promised the experience of “fraternity life,” which includes fraternity parties and sexual exploits at those parties. This results in a significant amount of sexual violence, which college administrations nationwide have condoned through inaction. These cases are also kept under wraps by the social pressure exerted on victims by the Greek system to keep quiet or risk becoming a social pariah who caused the closure of a fraternity. This is institutional privilege protecting white men and non-white men who can afford the membership fees.
Art by Arthur Nguyen // Daily Nexus
I’m not saying that all members of fraternities are rapists, and frankly, if that’s what you drew from my previous paragraph, you’re missing the point. I’m saying that the issue of institutionally protected rape at fraternities is a very serious and heavily racialized issue — an issue that the author of the article I’m responding to has not considered when claiming that members of Greek life face the highest level of “institutional persecution and condemnation.”
Sadly, that article is hardly an anomaly when it comes to the way white students and faculty at UCSB handle discussions of race and issues associated with race (colonialism, institutional violence, etc.). I’ll begin with the police presence on campus. The police are a white supremacist institution primarily concerned with protecting the property of the ruling class and producing brown and black bodies for the ever-expanding prison industrial complex. I don’t feel that I need to expand on those statements here, but for anyone interested in the issue, a great place to start is The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I have personally experienced police discrimination from UCPD officers, and many students of color have similar stories of being harassed, detained and humiliated while white students were ignored.
Just this year, Andy Sanchez, a student at UCSB, bled to death because of the inaction of Santa Barbara sheriff and fire officials who refused to treat him in a timely manner because of his race. This led to Sanchez’s death, once again highlighting the terror inflicted by police on students of color. No student of color — and especially no black student — can feel safe in Isla Vista while bands of heavily armed white men with a record of racial violence roam our streets. When these issues are brought up to white students and faculty, they fall on deaf ears who claim that there is no racial bias present in the way police deal with students of color. It is an exact reproduction of the national conversation regarding police brutality and white America’s ignorance of the issue. This is what it is like to suffer from “institutional persecution.”
The fact that any white person feels that they have the right to use a word with such a history of violence shows a basic failure of the white conscience.
The social presence of casual racism at our school is also astonishing and widespread. Going to any party in Isla Vista guarantees the sight of many white people shouting the N-word and referring to each other with the N-word while side-eying any black people who enter the party. The fact that any white person feels that they have the right to use a word with such a history of violence shows a basic failure of the white conscience. No person aware of the brutal history and current reality of racial violence in America would dare use that sort of language unless they fundamentally did not see the humanity of black people. The fact that white people using this word is so commonplace and can’t be avoided is another sign that the white student body at this school has failed completely in making this school a safe space for students of color. Racial insensitivity is especially on display during Halloween, Cinco De Mayo and many themed Greek parties. Isla Vista has no shortage of offensive costumes displaying racial stereotypes. White men dressed as “Arab Sheikhs,” completely ignoring the fact that the United States military has murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent Arabs through its indiscriminate bombing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and has continued to use drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and other regions in the Middle East.
White women dressed in sombreros and ponchos, completely glossing over the continued exploitation of migrant workers in the United States, demonization of and violence towards Mexican immigrants and large-scale economic exploitation of Mexico through the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which has led to a massive influx of immigrants. Yik Yak, a social network used by a massive number of students at this school, is a breeding ground for some of the most virulent and disgusting prejudice I’ve witnessed. I used Yik Yak for several weeks, posting under the username “KarlMarx420” to call out these instances of racism, and I witnessed the sheer magnitude of reactionary hatred present in white students using Yik Yak. These are just some of the examples I have witnessed personally. At no point have I ever seen white students apply social pressure to other white students to stop wearing disgusting and violent Halloween costumes or to stop saying the N-word or to stop any of the other horrible things white people do on a regular basis. This once again shows the backwards racial climate cultivated by white students at UCSB and shows that students of color at UCSB cannot feel safe around the white student body.
I especially have observed the effects of white supremacy in my own field. I’m currently a third-year mechanical engineering major at UCSB, and the largest corporate partners of our engineering program are companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. When I talk to my peers (overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male), these are the companies they are primarily interested in working for. Many professors (overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male) do consulting work for these companies and have research that directly deals with weapons manufacturing. As a Middle Eastern student, I am horrified and appalled that this many people are perfectly fine with being complicit in the murder and destruction of millions of lives. These companies are quite literally the driving economic force behind the white supremacist, capitalistic war machine that has ravaged Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and other Third-World nations for years. The weapons manufactured by these companies enforce American power overseas by taking a death toll that numbers in the millions. The fact that not a single professor that I have had has raised an ethical issue with this is disgusting, astonishing and once again shows the sociopathy of the white conscious when it comes to dealing with the pain and suffering of people of color.
Without even touching on our campus’s continued support of Israel, a white supremacist colonialist settler state predicated on the death and destruction of indigenous Palestinians, these examples show the backwards and violent racial climate at UCSB. This racial climate serves to dehumanize and harm students of color and creates an unsafe space for our education. It takes an immense psychological toll knowing that my peers see no ethical implications in assisting in the widespread violence of the American state towards people who look like me. It takes an immense psychological toll walking through campus on a daily basis knowing that the majority of the faces I see are willfully complicit about or actively participate in the institutional oppression I face.
It takes a psychological toll knowing that I could be arrested and brutalized by a police officer for conduct that a white person would be excused for. This is what it is like going to this school as a person of color. The ignorance of the white student body has only fed this unsafe atmosphere, and the column posted by the Daily Nexus last week is indicative of this attitude. White people will go so far to ignore the real oppression faced by people of color that they will claim that members of a white privileged drinking club face institutional oppression before they admit that racism exists on campus.
Also I’m openly gay and no one in my frat gives a shit because they aren’t the ignorant, bigoted assholes you make them out to be.
TO PAYMON: Thank you so much for writing this thorough and articulate article! Over the past couple years here at UCSB I’ve become increasingly aware of how absurd it is for people to claim that this is a “liberal or “diverse” university. As a white student I have never experienced racial discrimination by police or by fellow students, but I have seen it and learned about it, both in class and in Isla Vista. Over the summer, I overheard white students blatantly using the N-word and laughing about it. A friend of mine who is Indian told me last quarter… Read more »
“Would you listen if he was white?” Of course not. You don’t have to deny white privilege to recognize that this is a terrible article and a terrible attitude to have for anyone who actually cares about social progress. Just because someone’s goal is good doesn’t mean that their methods are automatically good. It doesn’t mean that whatever they say automatically has credibility. Crap like this makes the rest of us look bad, especially in the eyes of people whose opinions we’d like to change. I know most of you don’t care what those people think. That’s why you’ll continue… Read more »
To answer the question “would I listen if he was white”: NO. 98% of this opinion piece is a pile of crap. Everything that’s allegedly wrong at UCSB or America is instantly spun into “racism.” Sorry, not everything is racism. People make choices and have to live with the consequences, good or bad.
Trina: I hope your mommy and daddy have a lot of money because I guarantee you that you will never get a decent paying job in this world ever. EDU’s are in serious trouble and this racial grievance BS is not going to help at all. You aren’t getting a job there and they rip off young folks thees days anyhow. FYI: the adults are laughing at you and thing you are anti-free speech and far, far, far from liberal. You’ve basically redefined that word into something that approached Fascism. No one in the business world is hiring you….ever. Why?… Read more »
maybe your friend was kicked out of the sorority party because she wasnt in the sorority? Lol
Do you all think the author is just waiting patiently at her computer to respond to all your racist and derogatory comments? She said she’s a mechanical engineer so she is probably doing something much more important than catering to your whims. You all clearly don’t give a shit about her so do you seriously expect her to take the time to respond to all 200 comments? What a joke. You know its white privilege when you get angry for not being noticed.
He already responded once saying that the fact that people disagree with him is proof that he’s right.
Nice try though.
the fact that the author received so many demeaning and racist comments is proof that white people are little babies who don’t know how to fact check for themselves and expect to be catered to at the drop of the hat. If your feelings and worldview aren’t protected you don’t care about listening. honestly pathetic. The author predicted the racist backlash and was proven correct.
The summary of your statement is:
“Unless you white people agree exactly with what we non-white say, you are racist.”
What an AMAZING intellectual you are!
You have become the racist you so vehemently despise. You won’t even listen to a certain group of people because of their racial background.
The UCSB administration has no balls-they’re allowing the inmates to run the asylum. I suspect the blow back will be something they won’t like. They’re already wringing their hands about the White Students Union and validating the opinions of those like Trump and Ted Nugent (who reportedly called for a cleansing of America of liberals over the weekend). We are drifting towards the sort of upheaval Weimar Germany experienced in the 1920s and the rise of European fascism. Trump displays many of the characteristics of a fascist, and he’s hugely popular.
By anyone. Why? She’s a toxic person that creates unnecessary divisions and no employer will want anything to do with her.
After reading this article and a good number of comments, I feel it is only appropriate I leave my 2 cents. 1) This is an opinion article, not a research paper or scholarly article. The views expressed here are that of the author and are not necessarily grounded in fact. Attacking the validity of the author’s statements is silly. If you disagree with some of the ‘opinions’ then that is perfectly Okay. 2) If you are white, like I am, then you most likely cannot relate to the situation people of color are placed in. Trying to refute that people… Read more »
“Attacking the validity of the author’s statements is silly. If you disagree with some of the ‘opinions’ then that is perfectly
When someone is of the “opinion” that girls are raped on a weekly basis in the Greek System and they have no proof to back that up, it is perfectly okay to attack the validity of such a statement. That’s not an opinion, that’s an accusation, and a really fucked up one at that
A fucked up accusation? Open up your student email account and have a look through those UCSB Crime Alert messages. We get notifications of sexual assaults pretty much every three days.
This is a bit much, Pay Mon. I don’t think I can look at you in the same light as I used to. And I’m not sure I want to associate myself with you anymore.
As a professor, you have to open your mind and heart to all, weather you agree or not. He is simply bringing the pain in our society to the surface. I don’t agree with his delivery, perhaps age or the fact his whole life post 9/11 he is been called a terrorist, brown or a Muslim , even though he doesn’t practice any religion. I am glad he is standing up for the female students at school. We all have heard the term “walk of shame”, it’s only recently girls are getting enough courage to report SOME of the cases.… Read more »
The “walk of shame” has literally nothing whatsoever to do with sexual assault. It’s a joke about how it’s slightly embarrassing to walk home knowing that everyone around you knows you just had sex.
Also, he’s not a professor. He’s the same person that posted the list of racial slurs right below this. Look at the writing style.
Along other prides “brothers” take when they sleep with a girl, they line up and do this chant and clap as the victim tries to gather and go home.
Anyone who denies rape happens at campuses is an awful animal.
I’m not denying that rape happens dipshit. I’m saying that’s not what that phrase means.
I am disgusted by you, Pay Mon. And to tell the truth I always have been. You are racist scum. You have become what you hate. What’s stopping me from throwing around slurs like nigger, spic, and gook now? Maybe I should yell tranny at the top of my lungs?
Our friendship is over my dearest Pay Mon.
If you have a valid comment you really don’t need to sign off as “Professor” or “Grad Student” when most of you most clearly are neither.
This is what Central Valley conservatives think: “Now students at Princeton are demanding that Woodrow Wilson’s name be removed from buildings. There is no end to this. These idiots won’t stop until any non-African American in history that even had a racially insensitive thought be labeled a hateful bast*** and have everything good they did stricken from all historical documents. Just within the past 12 months, the Confederate Flag & the General Lee bit the dust. Now Woodrow Wilson will be branded a racist, first and foremost, over anything he accomplished. Can’t we just get along? Or do we have… Read more »
Overuse of the phrase “White Supremacy” 0/10
I am a white middle class male. I can’t agree more that racism and racial oppression does exist. I think you went about this the wrong way. Do I understand and agree with most of what you said? Yes. But with how extreme this was, and the pointing of fingers, you automatically created and white person to hate this article. I think it’s awesome you want to bring awareness, but do so by educating. All the white ideologies of these students and professors have been passed down. So being a radicalist and calling out one specific group won’t work. Educate… Read more »
If as a white person I must accept everything that comes with white privilege because I cannot refute it’s gain, when do I get to voice my problems? As a liberal arts major with a language minor, I don’t have the best outlook heading into the business world. Everyone has struggles and if you believe the institution or company or person you are speaking with is automatically dismissing you based on race, I’d say it’s on you to change their opinion by showing yourself. I hope to walk into an interview against other more qualified people and use my personality… Read more »
I wonder what an engineering program would resemble if it were unwilling to send graduates to defense contractors. I’m sure that it would also be unwilling to send them soon after to the auto industry…to pharma, to finance, to industry, period. The suggestion, while but a minor part of the article, is indicative of the closing of this student’s mind from the real world, wherein a professor of differential equations or database architecture has a mandate to cater to questions of social justice — even still, I’m sure the student would resent anything less than a dictation of his own… Read more »
“So long, free discourse” is a bit much. They’re just dumb kids. They’re not going to get what they want. Administrators might be terrified of angry teenagers but most professors aren’t, and there is no university without professors.
I mean the 12 of them that aren’t adjuncts, of course. Yeah okay maybe we’re fucked.
I’m curious to the author; what do you think about the hundreds of nonwhite members of the IFC fraternities? Are they participating in subjugating minorities somehow too? If fraternities are such bastions of racism, why do so many of them remain?
You can read about the goals of this pan ethnic identity and reaction to Okamoto s talk in the Daily Nexus .
The letter’s dumb, you guys suck. Stop talking in them’s and they’s. Stop talking about race. There is no “opposite” sex, just the other sex. Everyone is a human. Relax, be a student, do your homework. Chill out.
You are milking the situation so much it’s appalling.