Separate graduations, equal students

    Some people believe ethnic graduations should be encouraged because they celebrate diversity, and others believe that they should be discouraged because they encourage division. Either way, ASUCSD should not cut funding to ethnic graduations. In fact, disapproval of ethnic graduations is an important reason why they should continue to receive funding.

    If the A.S. Council removed funding for ethnic graduations, as Vice President Finance Eric Webster proposed Feb. 4, it would be similar to stifling free speech. This conclusion may not be immediately obvious, but follows naturally from two contentions. The first is that ethnic graduations are the equivalent to free expression. The second is that removing funding for ethnic graduations has the same effect as imposing a ban on ethnic graduations, because it is not realistic for the clubs to raise the required money on their own.

    Ethnic graduations express the desire of graduates to be seen as a community with similar cultural outlooks. Just as some forms of performative expression may not literally be speech, it is still the expression of a particular opinion or idea.

    Anyone who has made attempts to raise funds for school organizations knows how difficult and time consuming it is. This additional burden of raising funds for the graduation ceremonies ó a burden that is not borne by those attending regular, college-level graduation ceremonies ó would considerably limit the number of people who could be included.

    U.S. citizens have what should be considered reasonable limitations to the exercise of free speech- for example, it is not a good idea to yell “”fire”” in a crowded cinema if there is no fire. There are defamation laws to prevent libel and slander. The political expression implicit in ethnic graduations, the expression that is being considered for suppression, does not come anywhere close to violating these limitations. There is no incitement to violence or prejudice. Given this reasonably harmless nature, why should funding to ethnic graduations be cut, effectively stopping them?

    The institutionalization of free speech as a fundamental human right is one of the most beautiful things about the United States. Given how dangerous free speech can potentially be to the ruling class (the president’s life would be much easier right now if no one were asking difficult questions), it is astounding that free speech continues to be so staunchly defended in the United States.

    Free speech is especially worth defending when what is said is something disagreeable, something ridiculous, or something downright stupid. How can a reasonable person disagree with a particular opinion if he doesn’t fully know what that opinion is?

    There is a more important reason why ethnic graduations should be funded and allowed to continue. Ethnic graduations are not the problem, but rather the indicator of a problem. The problem is the self-imposed ethnic segregation that is being practiced by the students who attend ethnic graduations. Banning ethnic graduations will not remove this mindset from students. If anything, it will likely reinforce the mentality that “”the Man”” is always out to get them. If we think cutting ethnic graduations will end ethnic tension, then we are deluding ourselves. It only masks the problem, and stops the search for a true solution, as things worsen and fester unseen and untreated.

    It is not really disputable that there is little racial integration on the UCSD campus. Beyond the numerous organizations based on racial and/or religious lines, just a simple observation of the tables in Price Center will show the extent of the problem. Cutting funding for ethnic graduation will not change this either. It has at best a marginal effect on soon-to-be-graduating students, and basically none at all to the rest of the student body. In the best-case scenario, banning the funding for ethnic graduations will send a symbolic message to students that self-imposed segregation is frowned upon by the A.S. Council. Even in the most idealistic of observers, few would suggest a significant impact from such a minor action. What would be even worse is if Associated Students stopped worrying about ethnic tensions ó thinking the problem had been solved ó when, in fact, self-segregation continued and the student body became increasingly disconnected from each other.

    Ethnic graduations should be allowed to go on because they are undesirable. When policies that truly address the problem have been implemented and succeeded, and when true cultural integration is seen and felt in UCSD, then nobody will want to attend an ethnic graduation. If funding to ethnic graduations is cut now, UCSD will lose a very useful means of determining how many students feel that they are not a part of the main student body. The campus will be unable to determine if current policies are encouraging a welcoming environment, or if further changes are necessary to ensure equality and fairness for all students, regardless of race or cultural background.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal