Students Speak Out As Yet Another Hate Incident Hits UC Davis Campus

hate-crime-march-2010

Students were speaking out in a rally on Wednesday at the UC Davis Campus after yet another round of hate related graffiti and vandalism hit the campus.  Official found swastikas spray painted in at least three additional locations on Wednesday morning and quickly removed them.  This follows the incident of a swastika carved in a student’s residence hall door and the attack on the LGBT center last week.

Statewide there have been a slew of incidents coinciding with heavy cuts and fee hikes to the UC.  On Wednesday, a small but determined group, whose numbers were depleted by the threat of rain, met at the Memorial Union and marched to Mrak Hall.

One of the organizers of the event was Osahon Ekhator, an ASUCD Senator.  He told the Vanguard later:

“The real problem is institutionalized marginalization from Proposition 209 all the way to the way student governments represent underrepresented groups. It is a shame that diversity training isn’t mandatory especially considering that not all people come from progressive or accepting backgrounds.”

Mohamed Buzayan who co-organized the event told the assembled group at Mrak Hall:

“We are here today for a unified cause. Though each of us may have our personal reasons and issues to address, we in fact share a common problem. A disease of some sort is being spread across our campuses. A disease which knows no bound and has no end in sight. This disease I am referring to is of course hatred.”

Mr. Ekhator suggested to the Vanguard that hate speech can be swept under the rug as it is viewed as either free speech or vandalism.

“The real problem is institutionalized marginalization from Proposition 209 all the way to the way student governments represent underrepresented groups. It is a shame that diversity training isn’t mandatory especially considering that not all people come from progressive or accepting backgrounds.”

In part this comment was in reference to comments made by UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza who said that the swastikas found on Wednesday would be investigated as vandalism, rather than hate crimes, since they occurred in public locations.  The earlier incidents are being investigated as hate crimes because they happened at places that target specific individuals.

In statement she said:

“It’s shocking in the sense that we’re getting so many.  There are some who would think it’s a run up to the March 4 (education protests). We can’t prove that. We just hate the fact that we have someone or a group on our campus or in the vicinity of our campus who thinks this is appropriate behavior.”

Some have questioned whether these incidents reflect hate or simply are seeking attention.

The issue is being played out across the UCs right now as at least three campuses have faced racially motivated incidents in the past few weeks.

Mr. Buzayan saw a clear connection between the two and also a clear culprit:

“What simply began as a party in San Diego has now erupted into mass public displays of bigotry and prejudice. What is the cause of all this? The answer is lack of action by our administration and the little to no response to these racially provocative outbreaks.”

However, many have argued that the administration has been proactive on this.  Chancellor Linda Katehi has sent out multiple letters condemning the incidents and participated in a townhall meeting on Monday evening that was well attended.

On Monday night she expressed outrage at the message of hate not just at UC Davis but also the UC system at large particularly mentioning the Compton Cookout.

She said that leaders should be about respect, and letting people perform to the best of their ability, and to be allowed to express themselves. The attacks of hate on the UC show that everyone is vulnerable, and that we as a community have been attacked, and she concluded with a statement that the administration would continue to do everything possible to support the community.

In a letter written on March 1, she described the attack on the LGBT Resource Center, which she described as “vandalized and defaced with derogatory and hateful words.”

She continued, “It is also a strong reminder that we must be constant and vigilant in our efforts to confront and reject all manifestations of the historical and deep-rooted prejudices and biases that remain in our society.”

She called on the university and campus community to “confront this type of behavior not only with words but with action as well…  Such dialogue and action are also happening throughout the system in response to hateful incidents that have occurred, as well, on other UC campuses.”

Davis Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor offered brief remarks to the students assembled at the Memorial Union encouraging them to stay vigilant and to keep speaking out, while offering that the city of Davis would examine ways it could help as well.

Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada could not attend the protest, but sent a statement to be read at the event.  The Vanguard received a copy as well.  It read:

“I am sorry I cannot be with you today, as you march and gather to reject the recent rash of hate incidents across UC campuses in San Diego, Santa Cruz, and in our own home town of Davis.

We are joined today to take a stand for justice, to draw strength from each other, and to say in one loud, strong, and clear voice, that you who commit these outrageous acts of hate and intolerance do not frighten us at all, you bring us together, stronger than ever.

We say to you who hide in the shadows of the night, the “Compton Cookout”, the noose inside and the Ku Klux Klan hood outside the Theodore Geisel Library on the UCSD campus, are potent symbols of hate that do not intimidate us, but increase our resolve to overcome your hate with tolerance and peace.

To the Jewish student whose door was shamefully desecrated, and to our brothers and sisters of the LGBT Resource Center here at UC Davis, I say how sorry I am that you have been victims of such ignorant acts.  But you should know that for each one who would derive sick pleasure from such activity, there are hundreds, no thousands of people who will embrace you and say that these acts are wrong, unacceptable, and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  No matter who is targeted, we will stand together.”

Today marks a day of statewide action against fee increases and university cuts.  It seems obvious that at least part of this is related to the stress and anxiety that have been building in the system due to these cutbacks and fear of the future.  There is a fine line however that should be walked between remaining vigilant and overly sensationalizing what may end up being a cry for attention more than a message of hate.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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8 Comments

  1. wdf1

    the noose inside and the Ku Klux Klan hood outside the Theodore Geisel Library on the UCSD campus

    On the issue of the noose:

    [url]http://www.bvblackspin.com/2010/03/02/minority-student-apologizes-for-uc-san-diego-noose/[/url]

  2. Doug Minnis

    In the over 50 years of my association with UCD there have been other incidents of this sick behavior. It has been and can be stopped by vigorous efforts to discover the person or persons doing it and in addition every student,faculty , administrator and staff making it loud and clear that the campus culture does not tolerate such behavior. There is a campus statement of community that is the stated ideal for UCD. It is posted on the elevators in Mrak( and other places also). The many times I rode that elevator reminded me of who we would like to be. I knew the signers of the proclamation. When I read of this recent outrage I could not help wondering what those signers would say about this crime. I do believe their outrage would be slightly cooled by the great response from the campus’s many voices. In a way we can use such an outrage to speak as one that UCD has no place for this hate vandalism. Please catch them so we can say this to them in person.

  3. davisite2

    The connection between cutbacks and fee increases with these incidents is, to say the least, a real stretch. More to the point, there is an angry “take back our country”, “teabagger” political wind now blowing across our country that is legitimatizing and nourishing this kind of behavior. I doubt that any increasingly draconian laws about hate speech will be effective and we should all be wary of this politically “easy fix”.

  4. Frankly

    The word “hate” is repeated sixteen times in this rather short piece and probably many thousands of times in all the media articles covering these campus events. Think deeply. Hate crime laws developed over public outrage over the most heinous violent crimes against people belonging to certain groups. However, as is always the case when progressive do-gooders push the boundaries of the US Constitution, they make the thing an institution that eventually breaks from its historical and objective moorings and begins to wander aimlessly searching for ever-expanded definition. Once energized by the passing of hate crime laws, we became hyper-active crusaders supporting under-represented groups. We became expert diagnostician in human emotional psychology; just knowing hate when we see it and, by George, knowing it applies to the laws!

    There is a reasonable and valid argument as to whether hate crimes creates a sense of divisiveness that perpetuates these types of non-violent events, and therefore should be repealed. If all men are created equal and this is our natural law, then hate crime laws are unnatural… in fact, unconstitutional. I suspect the US Supreme Court will continue to check the growing misuse of states’ increasingly dysfunctional interpretation of their own related criminal and civil statutes for this thing called hate. However, until then, smart people should define all non-violent, non-individual targeting graffiti as simple vandalism and not get their shorts in a bunch projecting emotional motivations that either do not exist, or are too insignificant to warrant such attention.

  5. Alphonso

    “There is a reasonable and valid argument as to whether hate crimes creates a sense of divisiveness that perpetuates these types of non-violent events, and therefore should be repealed.”

    A sense of divisiveness certainly arises when people fake/falsify hate crimes simply to gain attention and I would bet some of that is going on. I hope they find these people and prosecute them fully regardless of the reason they acted the way they did. The woman who hung the noose at UC San Diego now claims she did not mean to do what she did and she is a minority student – too bad she acted poorly so she should be held up as a bad example just like anybody else.

    related topic

    “There is a campus statement of community that is the stated ideal for UCD”

    Actually the statement is called Principles of Community and I honestly doubt very many people in Mrak Hall have actually bothered to read and remember the words, let alone remember the title. It is not good enough to follow the parts you like and disregard other parts. The prior UCD Chancellor hid behind the words quite often but didn’t understand how to live by them.

  6. Steve Hayes

    …The issue is being played out across the UCs right now as at least three campuses have faced racially motivated incidents in the past few weeks….

    Does the Hate Crimes Legislation contain any penalties for false flag operations?. Such operations have occurred in this highly charged arena in the past.

  7. wdf1

    Does the Hate Crimes Legislation contain any penalties for false flag operations?. Such operations have occurred in this highly charged arena in the past.

    It happened in Davis maybe 2-3 years ago when there was racial referenced grafitti at Holmes JH that turned out to have come from a minority student.

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