‘Shut It Down’

The BSU altered their requests from the original 32 demands to a conslidated list. For example, the BSU no longer calls for a change to a holistic admissions system, but instead wants the current comprehensive review system to include additional points for first-generation students and those who attended schools in the fourth or fifth quintile.

The sit-in was in response to the discovery of a noose hanging from a light fixtureon the seventh floor of Geisel Library on Feb. 25 — the latest in a string of racially charged events, including a “Compton Cookout” party held Feb. 15 and slurs aired on Student-Run Television Feb. 18.

According to a police bulletin e-mailed to all students and faculty Thursday night, the UCSD police received reports of a noose — historically used in black lynchings — at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 25. The incident is being treated as a crime with “intent to terrorize.”

Leaders of the BSU immediately planned a protest for the following morning at 8 a.m. The Library Walk rally drew approximately 300 participants, including speakers from BSU, the LGBT community and faculty.

Sociology professor Ivan Evans spoke heavily about the “special horror of lynching” and called for the students to take direct action.

“They have gone where they should not have gone, and I believe we should respond appropriately,” he said. “I don’t believe it is the chancellor’s role to shut the university down, and I believe it would be difficult for her to do so. I believe it is our role to do that.”

Campuswide Senator Desiree Prevo referenced the recent reaction from members of student media organizations to A.S. President Utsav Gupta’s funding freeze last Friday, a reaction to BSU requests to shut down controversial humor newspaper the Koala. Prevo said this was not a free-speech issue.

“The Bill of Rights, in which the free-speech document came from, was never meant to include my people — our people — so how do you expect me to respect free speech, when I was never supposed to have free speech?” Prevo asked.

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox emerged from the Chancellor’s Complex to speak to the crowd. She said all criminal violators would be punished.

Vice Chancellor of Resource and Management Gary Matthews then came forward, revealing that a female student had confessed to hanging the noose around 9:30 a.m., and had turned in her two accomplices.

According to a letter to the Guardian from the student who hung the noose, the incident was “a mindless act and stupid mistake.” The student, whose identity has not been released, has been suspended for an indefinite period of time.

California Law AB 412, passed in August 2009, states that hanging a noose in a public area is a misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. However, the suspended student has not yet been taken into custody.

Protesters expressed their unhappiness with the administration reaction, and marched to the Chancellor’s Complex at noon.

Fox emerged once more to assure protesters that the university was taking action against hate on campus.

“I strongly condemn the offensive acts of hate and bias that have occurred over the past days,” Fox said. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue echoed Fox’s sentiments.

John Hanacek/Guardian

“You can’t imagine how pained we are over this,” she said. “We are heartsick.”

However, Fox made no mention of a campus shutdown, prompting protesters to pressure her to meet with the Academic Senate to determine if one was feasible. Meanwhile, demonstrators moved into Fox’s office to host an impromptu sit-in.

At approximately 2 p.m., the chancellor said she saw no reason for a shutdown, causing protesters to occupy her office until 5 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m., members of the BSU emerged from their meeting with Fox to announce that she had not adequately met their demands.

“They handed us over a bullshit-ass document,” BSU Vice Chair Fnann Keflezighi said to the crowd after the meeting. “Basically, it said everything that we already knew, no concrete things on how they’re going to implement anything. They’re dumber than we thought they were — dumber than I thought they were.”

According to the 11-page document responding to the BSU’s original demands, the university will begin taking steps to create a permanent task force to increase diversity awareness on campus and fill the vacant program-coordinator position for the African-American Studies Minor. (The full text of this document can be found online at www.battlehate.ucsd.edu/docs/implementation_of_demands.pdf.)

Despite escalating racial tensions on campus, many demonstrators expressed the belief that the incident has created greater solidarity within the UCSD community.

“I came to the protest because I’m part of this community and this coalition,” Muir College senior Indiana Rogers said. “These are people that I know, and people that are being disgraced.”

In addition, members of the Newman Center Catholic Community at UCSD planned to spread roses in Geisel Library at the site where the noose had been hung to show support for the BSU.

“We wanted to put something loving there instead of something so hateful,” said Anita Bradford, a graduate student in the history department. “We wanted to show our support.”

The BSU plans to mobilize again on March 1 at 10 a.m. on Library Walk, where they will continue to pressure the administration to adhere to their demands.

Additional reporting by Regina Ip.

Readers can contact Angela Chen at [email protected].

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