SD Rostra

The UCSD Overreaction & the Death of Free Speech

From Alec Weisman, Editor-in-Chief of the California Review about UCSD’s latest attempt to restrict free speech on campus:

Alec Weisman, Editor-in-Chief

Last weekend, individuals from several fraternities decided to throw a racially-themed party mocking Black History Month, called the “Compton Cookout.” This ghetto-themed party was definitely offensive, as it urged people to wear specific outfits and fulfill various stereotyped behaviors. The party was obviously meant to be funny although the theme was definitely in poor taste.

In response, the administration of UCSD sent out not one, not two, but three emails within a week condemning the party. The email urged that respect for the UCSD Principles of Community be observed by rejecting acts of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs and asked that students come together to show support for the black community at UCSD. Although the initial letter from Penny Rue, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, urged that the “The remedy for dangerous, offensive or extreme speech is more speech, not less,” this attitude was not to last.

On Thursday, Koala TV decided to capitalize on the excessive reaction of the administration by ridiculing the school and critics of the party. It is claimed that the Koala used certain derogatory words to describe black individuals, and commented that the critics of the party were ungrateful for a party thrown in their honor. However, this is in the nature of the Koala, which is written to deliberately offend every race, religion, and belief system. In fact, the leadership organization of the Koala is made up of exclusively minority students this year.

Following this, the Black Student Union held a rally on Friday, which nearly 200 students attended. Holding signs reading “Racism= individual, institutional, systemic, structural” and “Stop Racism” the Black Student Union was furious about insensitivity at UCSD. After screaming at the Chancellor “Real Action! Real Pain!” dialogue began between students in the Black Student Union and Chancellor Fox. Allegations were made by several students that “we are in danger! It’s that serious” along with claiming that they feel “isolated every day on this campus.”

Both Chancellor Fox and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Rue expressed their strong dislike for the Koala and their free speech. The students at the rally showed themselves to be extremely self-centered, believing themselves to be entitled to all their demands; one of them screamed “I’m expecting all kinds of action from you, and all of these demands to be met, as soon as possible. Meaning Now!”

It was particularly depressing to watch some of the legitimate concerns of the BSU become sidelined as the crowd adopted a mob mentality. The rally became a joke, as half of the rally concerned students ranting about justice and the other half consisted of demands and threats made to the administration. During the Chancellor forum, one student stood up and said “The facts are people are hurting right now. The facts are that people are threatened right now. The facts are is that we need change right now. Those are the facts that you need to take into account. Those are the facts that are all you need.” This is extremely troublesome, as the entitlement of these angry students displays their lack of concern for legal procedure and the Constitution.

Looking at the the list of demands made by the Black Student Union in their 16 page “Do UC Us” report, they list an assortment of studies and testimonials regarding black students on UC campuses, with emphasis on UCSD. In fact, their goals for making black students feel comfortable on campus are reasonable and should be supported. They include:
• Phone-A-Thons: Have BSU members call admitted Black students
• Black Admit Welcome Package: includes a Welcome DVD, letter from BSU and UJIMA, Black Directory, Postcard invitation to Admit Day, and a T-shirt/lanyard
• Black Admit Overnight Program for the 2010 UC San Diego Admitted African-American Students

The disconcerting fact is, although the BSU is rational, many of those people participating in the rally and forum were not. Many of the students’ arguments amounted to promoting equality of result rather than equality of opportunity. This flies in the face of American notions of freedom and equality. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, which eliminated the consideration of race for admission to college campuses and government hiring. This ended the quota system previously in existence whereby a student of a minority background could be accepted with lower grades to a university over a much more qualified student of a different ethnic group in order to fill a specific quota required by law.

Although UCSD has the lowest proportion of black students at a UC campus, as blacks represent 1.5 percent of students at UCSD, this statistic is misleading without reference to both the overall racial distribution of UCSD students and that of the state population as a whole. According to census estimates, in 2008 California consisted of 42.3% white individuals, 6.7% black individuals, 12.5% Asian individuals, 36.6% Hispanic individuals, and 1.9% being either American Indian, Pacific Islander, or mixed race. If we look at this in comparison to UCSD admissions, we get a stark contrast. Although black underrepresentation (7% of state population, 2% of UCSD students) relative to their fraction of state population is nothing to scoff at, whites (42.3% of state population, 26% of UCSD students) and Hispanics (36.6% of state population, 13% of UCSD students) are also seriously underrepresented under that metric. Who takes up the largest proportional increase then? Asians, who comprise a 49% plurality of UCSD undergraduate admits despite being only 12.5% of the state’s population. So before the irrational and emotional students freak out about the underrepresented black population, they should look at their own over or underrepresented population at UCSD and decide how they feel about their poorly thought out quota idea. However, the poor choices of the school administration continued.

As the forum progressed, Vice Chancellor Rue added to the irresponsible remarks, stating that there will be no “Racism, not in our community! That’s what we can say! We need more speech. We might not be able to shut them up, but our voices can be so loud that they cannot be heard!” What part of this behavior that Chancellor Rue advocates is any different from the behavior of those students during Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine? Shouting down people who you disagree with only serves to limit free speech. Now as stated before, any comments made by the Koala that were intended to provoke and insult the black community were made for that purpose, NOT to generate hate or crimes against black students.

As the forum began to conclude, AS president Utsav Gupta stated that “I’ve frozen all media organization funding until we rework these rules … It is still unacceptable that we still have the Koala. We’ve tried throughout this year to redo those rules and essentially not fund them. I don’t know if we’ll get rid of them, but on the part of the AS, we can defund them. We absolutely can defund them, and I believe we must defund them.” On this point, I must add (although I consider Utsav to be a good AS president and know him personally) that by admitting this fact on camera, he outed the Associated Students as being full of liars, as they swore during a media forum that their legislative attempt to form a media oversight board was not explicitly targeted toward the Koala. Utsav concluded by stating that “from this point forth no media organizations will get funding” until new media guidelines have been written.

Now why is the California Review weighing in on this story? First, we feel that the reaction of the school is excessive. Next, although we feel that the comments made by the Koala and the party organizers were inappropriate, THEY ARE NONETHELESS permitted by their freedom of speech. Third, we are directly affected by this media freeze, as up to this point we have been totally funded by the AS UCSD. Finally, it was brought to my attention that the California Review has been brought into the controversy by a staff writer of the Union Tribune due to our “Underwear Bomber” cartoon during the January issue of the paper.

In fact, we had to do a reprint of the issue because certain staff refused to allow it to be distributed until their names were removed from the issue and they were allowed to resign. As editor, I would like to state that although the cartoon was an anonymous contribution to the California Review, it was intended to be a satirical representation of the Underwear Bomber and RADICAL ISLAM, in a similar vein to the Danish Cartoons that were published in 2005. The cartoon was thus drawn to prove free speech existed on campus, and this was believed to be the case UNTIL this controversy over the party and the Koala arose.

The best part of the drama has got to be the latest few updates in this twisted story.

First, apparently the party was the brainchild, not of the frat boys, but rather the DJ for the event, who just so happens to call himself Jiggaboo Jones. He recently posted a youtube video explaining the real nature of the “Compton Cookout.” In it he called out the Black Student Union, the UCSD administration, and the Associated Students for blowing the event out of proportion.

Also, on Saturday February 20th, a facebook event was created by a UCSD student planning a Cultural Stereotypes Party, designed to allow people to pick a culture and harmlessly make fun of its stereotypes. The event is scheduled for March 4 at 8pm. And parties with offensive racial themes continue to draw students who want a good laugh and a stereotypical theme. To attend the “Compton Cookout Part Deux” click this link. Also, a facebook group has been established for everyone who is angry with the reaction that the school and media have had toward the “Compton Cookout,” click this link. Finally, another group was established for those angry with the Associated Students for shutting down free speech at UCSD, click this link.

Finally, state lawmakers (outgoing state Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D) and incoming speaker John Perez (D) in particular) are showing their desire to play race politics by jumping on this issue and urging for sanctions and suspensions against the students who were involved in the “Compton Cookout” party. Also the NAACP got involved and urged similar punishments.

Is this Political Correctness gone crazy? You be the judge.

In the meantime, please stand with us to oppose the UCSD AS’s attempt to destroy free speech.

More articles on this to come. In the meantime, please weigh in and comment.

Exit mobile version