The recent anti-Mexican chalking across campus does not constitute a UCSD crisis. The same graffiti appeared at UC Santa Barbara and has popped up around the country. It is a coordinated prank coming out of the Trump camp with a Trump son and the campaign media director in charge. It feeds the conservatives’ message about “spoiled millennials” and “political correctness.”
The real crisis at UCSD is the fact that six years after the Compton Cookout, the administration is still detached from student of color experiences, still repeating tired bromides about free speech, and still relying on canned boilerplate PR responses to incidents that make student of color anxieties on campus spill over. The administration has had six years and has done almost nothing to improve its “rapid response” capabilities.
The “Community Conversations” series planned for this week is similar to what the administration did after the Cookout and hangman’s noose in Geisel Library — an attempt to psychologize the issues and focus on individual “trauma.” Smart students back then did not appreciate it and walked out of the official administration event in Price Center West. Smart students now won’t fall for it either.
We are well aware of all the complications over the last few years — the Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion fiasco with a highly paid vice chancellor bolting after one year, the increased number of international students and the resource centers many of us fought for becoming mere extensions of administrative control.
But six years is a long time. Some of us have been waiting longer than that for a comprehensive strategic plan for transforming the toxic campus climate. In fact, working-class students of color have been waiting over 50 years.
The bravado coming out of the VC-EDI office is no substitute for real action. UCSD claims it will admit more Latino/a and Black students next year (a possibility given that Sacramento has put pressure on the University of California to cap out-of-state numbers and increase California residents). But if UCSD administrators do not move quickly, won’t these new students, to sample Dr. King, be “integrating into a burning house?”