Trouble in Paradise: Welcome to Post-Racial California

March 15, 2010 1 comment

by: Prof. Jorge Mariscal (UCSD-Literature)

Counterpunch, 3.12.10

On April 29, 1992, an all white jury acquitted three Los Angeles police officers accused in the videotaped beating of African American Rodney King. Within hours, riots were raging across southern California.

At the University of California, San Diego, Chicano and African American students held a protest on the usually placid La Jolla campus, one of the wealthiest and least racially diverse communities in the nation.  In an unexpected and unplanned move, hundreds of students began to march eastward toward the I-5 freeway.  Suddenly, they moved on to the freeway itself blocking the southbound lanes for several hours.

When interviewed later that day, UCSD students explained that while the King verdict might have been the trigger for their actions the real impetus was their years of frustration and isolation at the La Jolla campus.  Many of them were student activists; most were students of color. One Chicano was president of the Associated Students.  All of them represented organizations that had proposed reforms to the university that would make it more hospitable and inclusive of minority students.  All of their proposals had fallen on deaf administrative ears.  The injustice of the King verdict, the students said, was a distant reflection of the injustice the students experienced every day on campus.

For a seemingly idyllic campus hidden away from working class communities, twelve miles from the urban core of San Diego, UCSD had produced its fair share of radical student movements.  The most famous began in 1969 when a coalition of African American and Chicana students proposed a Lumumba-Zapata College in an attempt to force the campus to address minority concerns.  Angela Davis was the best-known actor in that chapter of UCSD’s history, but there were scores of others who learned their organizing skills in, of all places, La Jolla.  Somehow, whenever the national mood was conducive to student mobilization, UCSD was in the vanguard.

Flash forward eighteen years from the freeway takeover.  The UCSD campus in 2010 was physically much different but its institutional character had not changed at all.  There was a new engineering corridor, a new business school, and in general corporate influence was more visible than ever before. But the percentage of African American and Chicano undergraduates remained the same—1.3% and 9% respectively–and most students continued to find the campus climate as drab and sterile as it had been for almost five decades.

For many students of color, the climate was downright hostile. A relatively new feature of campus life was the growing presence of a Greek system of fraternities–some of them traced their origins to Reconstruction with founders who were disgruntled supporters of the Confederacy.  Many of the frat boys associated themselves with a student newspaper called the Koala that published a steady stream of sexist, homophobic, and racist screed designed to provoke and intimidate.  UCSD was a tinderbox waiting for a spark.

In the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the entire University of California system appeared to be entering the final throes of privatization.  State support had dried up and so campuses would have to survive on the backs of their students by increasing fees, cutting services, and increasing the number of non-residents (the so-called Michigan model).  The vision of an affordable college education for all, which San Diego Chicano and Black communities had always recognized as an illusion, was now receding from middle-class families of every color.  The push to find revenue in the pockets of out-of-state students meant that at least some California residents would be displaced.  Clark Kerr’s dream of accessible higher education seemed as faded as the photographs of him and President Kennedy at the 1962 Berkeley graduation ceremony.

Click HERE to read the rest of the article.

Categories: Uncategorized

Koala faculty advisor/sponsor gave the “newspaper” $120 to help publish its latest issue

March 14, 2010 8 comments

It’s hard to believe but the Koala has a faculty advisor. His name is Charles Fred Driscoll. He is a professor of Physics (click HERE for his faculty profile).

Prof. Driscoll doesn’t just “advise” the Koala. He loves this publication so much that he literally sponsored them by giving them a check of $120 to help them publish their latest issue (the Koala along with all other student media outlets were under a temporary  funding freeze after Koala editor Kris Gregorian called the BSU and their allies a bunch of ungrateful “n*$$#rs” on live UCSD television).When the SD Union-Tribune asked Prof. Driscoll why he donated money to the Koala, he responded: “I try to encourage diverse thought and exploration among students…Plus it’s tax-deductible; ain’t capitalism a bitch?”

For those of you that haven’t seen the latest Koala, I won’t post a link to it because I don’t want to contribute more “views” their page. Instead I have posted an excerpt  (see below) so that you can familiarize yourself with the kind of racially inflammatory speech that saturates this paper (esp. this latest issue which is the worst one I’ve seen in my many years here). Mind you that this was distributed to people in the midst of the racial emergency that offended so many in the last weeks. It was definitely aimed to provoke.

Prof. Driscoll: exactly how did the last issue of the Koala (that you partly paid for) encourage “diverse thought and exploration” among your students? We mean this as a sincere question. If you read this, we welcome your comments or corrections to this story. We want to hear from you. -J.F.

Categories: Uncategorized

Ward Connerly: Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

March 14, 2010 1 comment

reposted from the Student Activism blog:

Former University of California Regent and longtime affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly has attracted some attention recently by saying he wants to review an agreement that UC San Diego reached with the campus’ Black Student Union on March 4.

UCSD has been hit by a string of bias incidents in recent weeks, and the UCSD administration and the BSU have been working to craft a response. Connerly has expressed concern that their agreement may violate provisions in the California state constitution that ban racial preferences in college admissions.

There’s nothing out of line about this. Proposition 209 is the law of the land, and it’s legitimate for a Prop 209 proponent to try to make sure it’s enforced. But in attempting to explain why UCSD has such a low African American enrollment rate, Connerly made a false and derogatory claim about black students.

Here’s what he said, in an interview with a Southern California paper: ”There just aren’t enough black kids who are academically prepared to go to UC San Diego.”

This isn’t an opinion, it’s a factual claim. It’s checkable. It’s verifiable. And it’s wrong.

Emily Alpert of the news site Voice of San Diego has looked at UCSD’s applications and admissions stats, and come up with a bunch of good info. Her data show clearly that it’s not a lack of academic preparation that keeps UCSD’s black student population so low.

For full post, click HERE.

For info on who Ward Connerly is and why this is a really big deal, scroll down or click HERE.

Categories: Events, March 4

In the News

March 10, 2010 2 comments
Categories: Uncategorized

Hate Crimes at Cal State San Marcos- Action Today at Noon!

March 9, 2010 9 comments

Last Wednesday night (March 3), our brothers and sisters at Cal State San Marcos were victims too of hate speech–  graffiti denigrating African Americans, Chican@s, Arab Americans, and the LGBTQ commmunity was found in Markstein Hall. In response, students, faculty, and staff are rallying TODAY from noon to one in Kellogg Plaza. Please join in solidarity if you can.

More information on the event can be found on the Facebook event here.

Below, see the message from the campus president sent out to the community on March 4th:

Date:      March 4, 2010

To:         The Campus Community

From:     President Karen S. Haynes

Subject: Hate Crimes On Campus Will Not Be Tolerated

The University Police Department has informed me that they received a call last night about 9:00 p.m. with a report of hate speech on campus. A bathroom stall in Markstein Hall was vandalized with graffiti targeting multiple groups. University police are investigating this incident as a hate crime.

I deplore and am saddened that an individual would commit such a senseless and hurtful act. I will not tolerate any attempts to intimidate or threaten our University community. Diversity and tolerance are among our highest values at CSUSM. We will do everything possible to uphold these values and to protect the learning environment and public safety of our University.

Staff are available to assist students in our Cross Cultural Center, Women’s Center, LGBTQ Pride Center, Student Health and Counseling Center, and the Dean of Students Office. Employees may seek assistance from the Employee Assistance Program through the Human Resources and Equal Opportunity Office.

University police are taking all necessary steps to bring the person responsible to justice. I ask that anyone with information regarding this crime contact University Police at 760-750-4567. Information may be provided anonymously through San Diego County Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 888-580-8477, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week or by visiting: Attached is a police photograph of the graffiti.

I urge our campus community to speak in one voice and send a message that hate crime will not be tolerated at CSUSM.

[photo of the graffiti below, click to full size. Trigger warning]

Categories: CSUSM, Events, General

Week 10 Faceoff (this ain’t over folks)

March 7, 2010 2 comments

Lots of things happened last week. Students didn’t do their homework for two weeks, battling the university on two fronts: (a) about the issue of diversity and a hostile campus climate, and (b) organizing to reverse fee hikes, budget cuts, and the privatization of the university.

March 4 was a big date for both fronts. That morning, the BSU signed an agreement with the university administration (see post below). Later that day, UCSD saw thousands of people protesting against the corruption and privatization of our university (for more on that, see the UCSD Coalition for Educational Justice).

Although we should all be celebrating the near-spontaneous upsurge of student and faculty movement we’ve seen this quarter, we all need to realize that this is fight is just getting started.

Here are some of the big things happening on campus this week. It’s critical that people stay informed (via this blog) and on top of this.

1) Ward Connerly is coming to town. Ward Connerly (crusader against affirmative action in CA and in the US) is coming to campus this week to contest the legality of the UCSD – BSU agreements. For more on this, see:

Connerly Questions Validity Of UCSD Agreement With Black Student Union

Connerly to review agreement between UCSD, Black Student Union

For info on who Ward Connerly is and why this is a really big deal, scroll down or click HERE.

2) Christopher Edley, the Dean of the UC Berkeley Law School, is also coming to campus this week. He’ll be sitting with the Chancellor and with students  to iron out the details of this accord. For more on this, click HERE. Could this be in response to Ward Connerly’s planned visit?

Stay tuned for more developments about these things. – J.F.

Ward Connerly is color blind to racism, but likes the color of money

March 7, 2010 2 comments

Who is Ward Connerly and why should you care that he’s coming to UCSD this Week?

As you can see from the Week 10 Faceoff post above Ward Connerly is coming to UCSD to impugn the constitutionality of the accords between Chancellor Fox and the UCSD BSU. For those of you that don’t know him: here’s a quick rundown of how Mr. Connerly rose to prominence, courtesy of UCSD History Professor Takashi Fujitani (thanks Professor!!):

Connerly got his start in government by working in redevelopment and state housing, but got his push into big money circles by becoming something of a protégé of Pete Wilson. Wilson hired him in 1969 to be the chief consultant for the Housing Committee of the State Assembly (1969). This experience and the connections that he surely made at the time allowed him to start his own firm, Connerly & Associates, whose business centers on real estate. The money he made in the business that Wilson’s connections facilitated, allowed him to then pay back his benefactor by contributing a load of money to Wilson’s gubernatorial campaign. Wilson then repaid Connerly by appointing him as a UC Regent in 1993. This set the stage for Connerly’s drive to destroy the few meager tools we had under affirmative action at first the university level. I’m sure we all remember Regental Resolutions SP-1 and SP-2, which served as the testing ground and then springboard for the 209 campaign. But the story does not stop here because Connerly then went on to profit in obscene ways by accepting contributions from conservative foundations and corporate interests as a spokesperson and activist against affirmative action. Based on IRS records the Huffington Post reported back in 2008 that Connerly had personally made $7.6 million from 1997 to 2006 through his two tax-exempt, “non-profit” organizations, The American Civil Rights Institute and The American Civil Rights Coalition. Connerly’s profiteering out of the ruins of education and social justice came in the way of an enormous salary and fess for speaking and interviews that he paid himself.

“There just aren’t enough black kids who are academically prepared to go to UC San Diego”

This is Mr. Connerly’s most recent explanation for why Black students are underrepresented here at UCSD (for more, go HERE). In response to this comment, Prof. Jorge Marsical (Literature) wrote us in an email:

…this statement by Ward Connerly disqualifies him from saying anything else about our business. Every year there are hundreds of academically qualified Black students admitted to UCSD, more than at UCLA or Berkeley. As you all know, the problem is that over 80% of these academically prepared Black students choose NOT to come to UCSD. Why? Scholarship money and other factors but especially a shitty climate as we’re witnessed the last two weeks…

On Ward Connerly’s blackness

For sure, if Connerly jumps into this fight, critics of the BSU’s campaign here at UCSD are going to point to his black body as something that somehow gives his anti-affirmative action stance more weight. Much like the J. Jones fellow we got to know in the past few weeks, Black people are sometimes complicit in doing or supporting things that reproduce the structural marginalization of historically oppressed people of color in this country. A similar thing happens in the colonial world, where colonial subjects sometimes become agents of their people’s oppression partly because they have been thoroughly indoctrinated by colonial ideologies and partly because they’ve realized that they can get some personal gain out of it.

This illustrates how contrary to the way many people commenting on this blog think, this is not a white people versus black people thing. This is about people who understand the undeniable reality of structural racism and stuctural priviledges and are compelled to do something about these things versus those who for whatever reason either don’t get it or choose to ignore it. Mr. Connerly (and J. Jomes) are two examples of how people on either side of this struggle come in different bodies with different racial identities. The same goes for the thousands of white folks who have supported the campaign of the BSU and their allies (just look at any of the pictures from the Feb. 24 events; there are many kinds of bodies there).

On Ward Connerly’s love for the color green

Below is some more detailed information on who Ward Connerly is and on his track record when it comes to matters of race (courtesy of BAMN).


  • Connerly is CEO of Connerly & Associates, Inc., a real estate corporation based in Sacramento. He has gained financially from affirmative action programs in contracting. He attained his Regents position after donating $73,000 to the election campaign of Republican Pete Wilson, who as governor appointed Connerly to the Board of Regents on March 1, 1993, and whose political protégé Connerly is.
  • As president and spokesperson of ACRI and ACRC, Connerly earns an additional $400,000/year. [Sacramento Bee, “Connerly’s Crusading is Paying Off,” June 26, 2003] He has received at least $100,000 from Joseph Coors of the Coors Corporation and nearly $2 million from other sources to spend on Proposition 54 (the “Racial Privacy Initiative”). [Ann Arbor News, July 27, 2003] Connerly “buys” his ballot initiatives- with his funding, Connerly pays professional companies to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures to place initiatives on state ballots and to finance deceptive ad campaigns.
  • Despite a legal challenge filed in 2002, Connerly continues to conceal the source of more than $1 million he is currently spending on Proposition 54 (“Racial Privacy Initiative”).


  • In an effort to nullify the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding affirmative action, Connerly is attempting to bring an anti- affirmative action ballot measure to Michigan and has announced his intention to bring similar measures to other states.
  • Connerly first gained notoriety when he authored SP-1 and SP-2, which the Regents passed on July 20, 1995, banning affirmative action in UC admissions, employment, and contracting. The Regents later unanimously repealed this ban on May 16, 2001 in response to a BAMN-led demonstration of over 8,000 students and youth on March 8, 2001.
  • In 1996, Connerly chaired the campaign for and drafted Proposition 209, which amended the California constitution to bar affirmative action in education, employment, and contracting for all state institutions. In 1998, Connerly campaigned for Initiative 200 in the state of Washington, which has lowered minority enrollment at the University of Washington and has increased segregation in Seattle’s public school system.
  • Connerly is chairing the campaign for this October’s Proposition 54 (“Racial Privacy Initiative”), which would bar the collection by the state of racial and ethnic data. Universities, employers, and government agencies would be allowed to engage in discriminatory practices without fear of state information-gathering used to track discrimination.
  • In September 2001, Connerly brought a successful suit to eliminate five state equal opportunity programs. This included abolishing outreach programs that provided information to socially disadvantaged businesses about opportunities available through the state, as well as programs that encouraged but did not require the use of underutilized minority and women-owned businesses in competitive bids for state contracts. Connerly also eliminated procedures protecting minority civil service workers from discriminatory layoffs, as well as every integration goal for faculty and staff in California universities and community colleges. Groups that are negatively impacted by these attacks include: women, black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans (including American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians), and Asian-Pacific Americans (including persons whose origins are from Japan, China, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Samoa, Guam, the United States Trust Territories of the Pacific, Northern Marianas, Laos, Cambodia, and Taiwan).
  • In July 2003, Connerly raised Resolution 38 before the UC Regents, to ban minority and LGBT-themed student orientations and graduation ceremonies. The motion failed.
  • Proposition 209 has resulted in severe drops in black, Chicano, Latino, and Native American enrollment in the University of California’s top schools and graduate schools. In the Fall 2003 freshman class, only 315 (3.6%) black, 771 (8.8%) Chicano, 262 (3.0%) Latino, and 51 (0.6%) Native American students were admitted to UC- Berkeley (out of 8,796. For Fall 1995, before the end of affirmative action, 623 (7.1%) black, 1172 (13.3%) Chicano 338, (3.8%) Latino, and 142 (1.6%) Native American students were admitted to UC-Berkeley. [UC- Berkeley Office of Student Research] In 2002, these groups comprised 41.6% of California’s high school graduates. [California Department of Education] In Fall 2002, only one black first-year student enrolled at UC-Irvine medical school, and only two black first-year students at UC- Davis and UC-San Diego medical schools. [UC Office of the President].


To sum up, Ward Connerly has a proven record of undermining the small gains in educational access made by communities of color. He is not the defender of ‘civil rights’ as he claims to be, but rather continues to work in the interest of those in privilege. UCSD, what will we do in response to his campus visit? – T.T. and J.F.