Letter to the Editors


How does the UCSD Guardian publish a pro/con opinion article with both sides arguing the same opinion — and then follow up the article with a letter to the editor perpetuating the same opinion again?

The Guardian’s “Separate graduations, equal students” (Feb. 9, 2004) attempt to cover a fair debate on ethnic graduations insults progress toward a racially conscious campus and, even worse, does so in a divisive manner. Rather than offering multiple arguments on issues of race, the Feb. 9 paper offered two narrow opinion pieces framed under the same conservative rhetoric where both pro and con assume that “ethnic graduations” lead to “segregation!”

I’m concerned with the misguided effort of writer Logan Goh, representative of the pro side of ethnic graduations. Ultimately, he is not in support of the basic idea of cultural organizations’ graduation ceremonies. Rather, his support is a reductionist argument for free speech misleading the entire social value of cultural organizations:

“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.”

Why is someone who obviously knows little of these graduation ceremonies and is actually against them ideologically writing the pro section? Goh does not support ethnic graduations, and has the audacity to suggest allowing what he believes as “undesirable” to continue as to fix itself through error.

On behalf of those who do support and intend to participate in cultural organizations’ graduation ceremonies, I am against how Goh renders this as cultural “toleration” or mere “expression.” Student cultural organizations voluntarily fund and work toward these ceremonies through diverse efforts and with very little or even no A.S. funding. They do not replace the main graduation ceremony. They are intimate gatherings with close family, friends and peers that complement the main graduation in order to celebrate and promote the achievements of individuals whose groups’ achievements are not recognized in larger, hectic and rushed graduation ceremonies.

This should be a concern since minority applications to the University of California have significantly dropped and K-12 outreach funding has been eliminated in addition to cuts in education across the board. The last ceremonies I attended celebrated the accomplishment of first-generation graduates of groups whose lower graduation rates signify the larger barriers marginalized identities face in higher education — economic constraints, subtle and blatant racism and discrimination and the lack of identifiable environments of shared identities, languages and experiences.

These ceremonies complement the graduation process by establishing not only shared histories and cultural sensibilities, but because these groups also share a future in which marginalized ethnic groups grow into the professional world together.

Students of color promote anti-racist, pan-ethnic coalitions with resources such as the Cross-Cultural Center as an integrated space to gather diverse and shared interests that would otherwise be threatened.

I sincerely hope the editors realize this unfair mistake. Student cultural organizations and their supporters who attend and work for these ceremonies deserve a fair argument. Fair speech includes those who stand for a particular idea to represent these ideas themselves, not a series of articles in which one poses as support for ethnic graduations when it actually outrageously condescends them instead.

— Mark Marcelo

Thurgood Marshall College Senior

Kaibigan Pilipino member