Students gathered on Library Walk last Tuesday to demonstrate against the pro-Trump and anti-immigrant statements found written in chalk across campus on April 8.
The event, titled Chalk Back, began at 11 a.m. when students gathered in front of the Silent Tree. For three hours, organizers encouraged students to voice their thoughts and feelings about the statements and the administration’s response to racial incidents in general. Toward the end of the event, faculty members, including Professor Dennis Childs and Professor Rosaura Sanchez, joined the students and voiced support for their cause.
At the demonstration, student representatives from Movimeniento Estudiantil [email protected] de Aztlan and Migrant Rights Awareness announced that they had a list of 33 demands that students sent to UCSD administration before inviting them to the day’s protest.
Eleanor Roosevelt College junior and MiRA representative Sonia Garcia Avelar told the UCSD Guardian that the demands are based on the collective needs of underrepresented groups and are within the scope of the administration’s power.
“This is a list of demands that is really encompassing of our communities, which are very broadly defined [to be] historically underrepresented and underprivileged,” Garcia Avelar said. “We were very careful about the things we were asking for. [Within these] demands are very sensible and tangible [requests], things that the administration can definitely do.”
Garcia Avelar also emphasized that, though MEChA and MiRA hosted the meeting to draft the demands and the demonstration, over 200 students from various groups on campus contributed significantly to the process.
The incident in question is part of a larger event that is known as “The Chalkening” during which university students across the country used chalk to write slogans in public areas endorsing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. In addition to these political statements, antagonistic messages directed towards the Latinx, Chicanx and undocumented communities were found written around campus, including in front of UCSD’s Raza Resource Centro.
Administrators did not respond to the chalking incident until five days later with a brief email denouncing the content of the messages, stating that the chalkings “[ran] counter to [the] campus values of equity and inclusion.” The emails then went on to reaffirm the university’s commitment to upholding principles of diversity.
Sixth College senior and MEChA co-chair Aimee Nava told the Guardian that she was dissatisfied that the email was sent to faculty and staff before it was sent to students and that the university’s response to the chalkings is insufficient.
“That to me was a little offensive because I feel like students were the ones most affected by [the chalkings] and we’re the ones who make up this university in terms of numbers,” Nava said. “Also when it was sent out, it was two paragraphs. That is nothing. That is invalidating our experience and invalidating the hurt that our communities were feeling.”
Nava also emphasized that the protest was to call attention to the fact that administration does not appropriately address incidents of racism.
“[The Chalkening] was not an isolated event,” Nava said. “This has been happening for years. In 2010 we had the ‘Compton Cookout,’ which was a direct attack on our black community. This has become a problem because it’s never addressed.”
The “Compton Cookout” is an event that occurred in February 2010, where one of the campus fraternities encouraged students to dress “ghetto” and eat watermelon as a means of mocking Black History Month. Later that same year, a pillowcase was found on the head of the Dr. Seuss statue resembling the hood of a klan member and a noose was found in Geisel Library. In response to these events, UCSD established the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion requirement in 2011.
Muir junior and MEChA co-chair Elizabeth Uribe believes that the university should meet with representatives from all of the communities affected by incidents of racism all at once, rather than separately.
“Administration really haven’t reached out to us [collectively],” Uribe told the Guardian. “The only people they’ve reached out to [are] MEChA and MiRA … It’s not just about our student org … [because] it doesn’t just affect the latinx or chicanx communities … We’re going to push for other folks to meet with administration [and for administration] to meet with us all together collectively. In the end, we all intersect and we’re all connected to this problem. So we’re gonna push it, and if they don’t respond, we’re going to take it up higher.”