[Reposted from here]
March 6, 2010
To all our supporters:
First, let us express a sincere thank you to all of those who have had our back over the last two weeks. Together, we are working to transform UCSD into the kind of public university it was intended to be—accessible and welcoming to students from all communities; a resource for our people and all the people of California.
Some have said that we have exploited the crisis on campus in order to “get things for ourselves.” Please know that the demands we made were intended to benefit all students, of every color and background. We more than most were deeply affected by the string of racist incidents. The structural changes we propose will help to create a university where such incidents can never again have the powerful impact we have witnessed for two long weeks.
This is not a Black thing; it is not even a Black-Brown thing. The 19 demands are designed to create a campus climate, support services, and curriculum that will enhance the educational experience of all students. How can it be that at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, a student can announce that she did not know that a hangman’s noose was “an issue”? How can graduates of UCSD claim to understand the world if they are ignorant of their own country’s history and if they have never had an African American or Native American classmate?
On Thursday, March 4, BSU signed an agreement with Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. In that agreement, the administration offered to take up each of our 19 demands and convert them into “common goals.”
We are cautiously optimistic.
We are optimistic because we know that this is an historic moment. For decades, UCSD has been told that for many students the campus is not the utopia it pretends to be. Now is the time for the change to begin.
We are cautious because we understand that promises on a piece of paper, even one signed by the Chancellor, may not become reality or may become a misshapen distortion of what was intended. Promises can disappear never to be seen again into a bureaucracy that knows only its old ways.
This week a delegation from the Office of the UC President will arrive on campus to discuss implementation of the agreement. Forces from off campus are moving to disrupt the progress that has been made but we will not be distracted.
And so we ask that you remain vigilant and we ask for your continued support. What will UCSD look like in 20 or 30 years? None of us knows. But what we do know is that our generation has the responsibility to push the process of democratic educational change forward.
Real pain! Real action!
How long? Not long!
Real pain! Real action!
Black Student Union at UC San Diego
Students and administration agree on actions to create a campus that respects differences and ensures diversitsy.
By Judy Piercey
The University of California, San Diego reports success in defining common goals at today’s meeting between senior administrators, faculty and students, led by Black Student Union co-chairs David Ritcherson and Fnann Keflezighi to address diversity issues to improve the campus climate. The adopted recommendations aim to move the university past hurtful incidents and improve the campus climate by enhancing diversity on the campus, in the curriculum and throughout the UC San Diego community.
“We’re pleased to see such a great exchange of ideas today. We now have a signed agreement to move forward,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. “We applaud our student leaders, the campus and the San Diego community for their engagement, passion and leadership on finding solutions to these issues. Although there is much work ahead of us, our ongoing partnership will build a healthier campus climate that supports everyone in a meaningful way.”
A joint statement noted: “The UC San Diego administration and students have engaged in a productive wide-ranging conversation about how our common goals can be reached. The conversations of this week show that there is a commitment from all participants to work together for the benefit of the entire campus.”
The administration and students collectively determined measurable steps and concrete milestones to ensure that UC San Diego moves forward in working with students, faculty and staff on complex and vital issues. Suggestions that resulted from meetings during the past week include enhancing programs the campus already has in place to target first-generation and low-income students, attract and retain qualified and diverse faculty, and ensure that the university provides a curriculum that reflects the cultural richness of the state and region.
The campus community will put into action the following recommendations, among others:
For the rest of this article (with full recommendations), click HERE.
On Thursday, March 4, as many of us gathered outside the Chancellor’s complex to wait for the end of negotiations between the Black Student Union and the UCSD administration, various members of the UCSD community came forward to state their solidarity with the demands of BSU. Throughout this entire ordeal, it has been clear that this campus struggle is not simply a “black-white” issue, but one that involves all marginalized communities here at UCSD. Below, watch just a few of the statements that were made that morning, via the UCSD Coalition for Educational Justice’s YouTube account at JusticeUCSD – T.T.
This letter was sent today to Chancellor Fox from community members in the Scripps Oceanography Institute.
We, the community of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD, will not tolerate racism or hate at our school. This institution is a place of higher learning for people of all ethnicities, socioeconomic standings, genders, religions, and sexual orientations. Brilliance knows none of these boundaries, and we actively reject discrimination based on any of these personal identifying backgrounds. The purpose of this letter is to unite SIO in support of the individuals who feel hurt by recent racist acts, and to ask that administrators recognize the need to actively mend the rifts these acts have highlighted.
The February 2010 acts of individual members of the UCSD community involving the racially offensive “Compton cookout”, the use of the “N” word on the student-run TV station by the Koala, and the display of the noose at Geisel Library are divisive and abhorrent. These individuals’ ignorance, gross insensitivity, and hatefulness have no place at UCSD.
Intellectual communities, like social communities, are enriched and stimulated by diversity. As we strive for the best intellectual environment at our institution, we recognize that we must fight for the inclusion and protection of underrepresented groups. We embrace these groups and value their contributions to our community. We will absolutely not accept threats and hate towards them. Furthermore, as members of the SIO community, we recognize that in our position of privilege, it is unethical to fail to defend minority groups that are abused by members of the majority. We will not stand for it. Not in our community.
Too often, SIO is cloaked in apathy owing in part to its physical separation from both the main UCSD campus and less privileged areas of San Diego. Today, however, we take action. We come together to support diversity and justice. We are committed to those who feel emotionally burdened by recent events and who struggle to fulfill their duties both to research and to our hurting community. We are also committed to the underrepresented groups that already reside at our institution, and we are fighting to retain them in an atmosphere that is welcoming to all individuals.
The current friction on campus affects far more than the 2% of students directly targeted by the hateful acts. It affects all students, faculty, and staff members who value our community. By signing this letter, we are supporting our classmates and colleagues, both at SIO and on upper campus, pledging “Not in our community!” We will stand against hate and insist on administrative action to improve the campus climate. We will listen to the concerns and fears of our classmates and colleagues, and dedicate the necessary time and resources to mend our fractured campus. Together we promote compassion, empathy, respect, and intellectual exchange for all members of our community.
Thanks and Peace,
Proud Advocates for a Diverse and Inclusive UCSD and SIO
*Please Distribute Widely*
In an attempt at a meaningful contribution honoring the actions that are taking place on campus as of recently, we are interested in creating an archive that focuses on the (dis)organized responses from students, faculty, staff chronicling campus climate over the last few weeks since the “Compton Cookout.”
Here is how you can participate:
WHAT: We invite you to share photos, videos, emails, letters, testimonials, songs, fliers, buttons, journal entries and all other materials that have documented the recent event.
WHEN: Please donate these materials between 10am-3pm
WHERE: to the booth entitled “Archive of Knowledge” outside the Student Health Center (adjacent to Library Walk) on MARCH 4, 2010.
As graduate students enrolled in Ethnic Studies 257B: Social Theory, we believe in the importance of recording and archiving acts of history-making and ask for your participation in the making of history through the contribution of ephemera to this collection. Come and hand in your physical donations and also make a 30-second video testimony or response (or not).
a letter from Elizabeth Sine, a PhD student in History at UCSD
Dear Allies, those I know and those I don’t (ie., whomever may read this):
Before and above all else, I want to thank the BSU, MEChA, and
everyone else who helped to ignite the movement taking place on our
campus, and who have helped to open up some real maneuvering room
within this university for all of us who want to transform it and to
make it a fully public institution. I write today not only in
celebration of the struggle we are currently engaged in, today, these
past few weeks, and—for many of us, in varying ways—for a long time
before that, but also with an eye toward the long haul we have ahead.
Like many have already noted, the diversity of coalitions and people
who have come together to support this movement, and to support the
demands laid out by the BSU, is remarkable. The effort to challenge
the racialized hierarchy that holds this institution together, and to
combat the ongoing process of the university’s privatization, has
brought together so many people, across lines of racial and cultural
difference, and across the ranks assigned to us by the university
system—undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff. I
want to address the question of how we might continue to build and
engage in meaningful dialogue and common struggle across lines of
difference, with particular attention to varying forms of privilege and
underprivilege attached to those differences. More specifically, I
want to raise some issues and questions for students committed to the
struggle for greater diversity in the university who are operating from
positions of privilege—white privilege or otherwise.
I think most who read this will recognize the institutional nature of
the racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia that the student movement aligns itself against. I think many recognize the uneven and
hierarchical nature of the distribution of power in our university
system, as well as the extent to which the ongoing corporatization of
UCSD in particular, and public education in general, threatens to
intensify already-existing inequalities and modes of oppression (with
a particularly menacing threat to underrepresented groups within our
community). And I think that it’s important to acknowledge, and to
become comfortable thinking and talking about, the implications of the
university’s hierarchical structure for internal relations within our
movement—what it means to engage in struggle, in a coalition as
diverse as ours, against an institution that has been designed to
privilege some at the expense of others.
Indeed, it is vital for all of us to understand that the problems of
racism and inequality are collective, and that every person here has
an important role to play in the struggle against the denial of human
dignity and for institutional change. At the same time, the
institutions of privilege and inequality that exist on this campus and
in our society mean that we all approach this struggle from different
vantage points and from a playing field that has never been even.
And so, trust to exist among us and for the full strength or our
collective action to be realized, I think we have to take fully into
account the varying forms of privilege that come attached to our to
our socioeconomic status, our racial and ethnic identifications, our
gender and sexual practices, and whatever other factors affect our
social position and relationship to each other. In fact, I would go
even further to say that those among us whom this university has been
designed to benefit bear a responsibility to think critically about,
and to disinvest from, our own social advantages (beginning with a
recognition that those advantages are not a pure result of our own
Surely, there are many among us who have been thinking about working
through these issues for a long time. But I think it’s worth putting
on the table for serious reflection and discussion in this critical
moment in which new forms of solidarity are taking shape and when
there is so much at stake. We have to be comfortable acknowledging
the ways in which some one who is racialized as white (such as myself)
cannot ever really understand the experience of racial oppression,
even as we participate in the struggle against it. And so, for such
individuals, the struggle against institutional racism must begin with
a disinvestment from whiteness, from the advantages of middle-class
upbringing—from whatever other advantages have been tied to the social positions we were born into.
So, what does this mean in practice? What does it take to disinvest
from privilege—from white privilege, or class privilege, male
privilege, or the privileges attached to normative sexual practices
and identities? Of course, there is no simple or singular answer to
these questions. But there may be a couple of starting points to
To begin with, as I’ve already been suggesting, I think it will be
difficult to move forward without making transparent the ways in which
various forms of privilege operate across lines of difference within
our coalition. Whether this occurs on the level of personal
reflection, in the realm of political thinking, in our informal
discussions with each other, I think it’s important that the issue is
brought out into the open.
Secondly, we must bring into a practice a politics of listening. It
is way too easy, especially given the individualism promoted by our
social institutions, to become absorbed in the way this struggle looks
from a particular and personalized vantage point. The danger of this
kind of individualist tendency is that it threatens our solidarity by
blinding us to the ways in which multiple struggles are intersecting
and overlapping in this movement, even as they all ultimately
challenge inequality and corporatization in the university. Listening
and taking seriously each other’s needs and concerns will not only
help to strengthen our solidarity and our movement but will help us to
avoid reproducing the kinds of hierarchies that we are struggling to
The disparities of power that shape relations across race, class,
gender, and sexuality do not have to persist. But I believe that they
can’t be dismantled without our open acknowledgment of them, our
critical and careful reflection on them, and a deliberate effort to
extricate ourselves from them and to bring into practice a different
kind of social relations that prioritizes the dignity of every one
here, in ways that UCSD’s administrative power structure has not.
Laying bare and discussing openly the hierarchies of privilege that
shape our university—and the social, political, and economic
institutions that dominates it—will be uncomfortable for some, but I
can guarantee it’s a lot less uncomfortable than enduring first-hand
the kind of isolation, marginalization, and oppression that many
students on our campus have been experiencing for a long time. And it
is necessary to move forward together toward taking back our
And I undersign myself.
Thank you for this work, Elizabeth.
Other resources for white allies from around the web:
- A note to the privileged at UCSD
- Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh
- A letter to the white student movement, by Deluche
- How to be an anti-racist ally
- So you think you’re an anti-racist?
- The do’s and don’ts of being an anti-racist ally
- Checklist for allies
And for people of color who want to support white allies:
Please see below for a statement of solidarity from UC Berkeley’s APIEL NOW! (Asian Pacific Islander Education and Languages NOW!). A timely bit of reading before attending the dialogue this evening on Asian American/Pacific Islander responses to the racial crisis, from 7-9pm at the Cross-Cultural Center.
March 1, 2010
In solidarity and struggle,
Asian Pacific Islander Education and Languages NOW!