Racial Conflict Strikes UCSD with “Compton Cook-out” and Noose
UC San Diego is the latest UC that has made the media circuit with the recent racially charged event, “Compton Cookout,” thrown by several members of various fraternities. This was followed by a taping of the school-sponsored “Koala T.V.” featuring the editor of the publication calling the students condemning the event “ungrateful n——.”
On the following Friday, the Black Student Union (BSU) at UCSD declared a state of emergency due to the hostile campus climate towards the Black community, which makes up approximately 1.3 percent out of 20,000 undergraduates.
The BSU held a press conference following a protest and presented Chancellor Mary Anne Fox and other members of the Administration a list of 32 demands.
These demands included making African-American Studies a priority to the school (it is currently only offered as a minor) and matching funds to the Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Services (S.P.A.C.E.S.), a program created and run by undergrads to increase the yield of underrepresented students on-campus.
Since the event, there have been mixed reviews on whether or not the “Compton Cookout” rightly deserved the backlash it received. Many students have justified the party as being “satirical” rather than racist, arguing that political correctness has in essence made our society uptight and overly prone to deem a party like the Compton Cookout as racist.
One group of students took it upon themselves to form the Facebook group “UCSD Students are Outraged that People are Outraged about the Compton Cookout.” Many other students claimed that the BSU is “milking the situation” in order to administer their demands, which are seen as costly in the midst of already stifling budget cuts. Ironically, some black students have been vocal about their opposition to such demands, calling the list “unreasonable and demanding” given that the party was not a school-sponsored event.
However, Fnann Keflezighi, a third-year ethnic studies major and African-American studies and education double minor, said that people fail to understand that the issue at hand is more than just about the Compton Cookout, but rather a direct reflection of the campus climate for the Black Community at UCSD.
“This is a systematic issue that our school isn’t making people feel comfortable as they should,” said Keflezighi, who is also the Vice-Chair of the Black Student Union at UCSD.
This is crucial for the BSU, as they have actively been working over the past few years to understand why UCSD’s enrollment results in the lowest yield-rates of black students. In fall 2009, 50 black freshmen entered UCSD out of the 333 black students that were granted admission, compared to the 44 percent yield rate UCLA boasts from black students.
In response, last summer Keflezighi, in conjunction with the Black Student Unions of UCSD, UCI, UCLA, and UCSC, researched and developed the “Do U.C. Us?” campaign. The campaign consists of a compilation of testimonies from black students experiencing a hostile and toxic environment during their time at UCSD in an effort to gain insight on how to better yield Black students to their campus.
BSU and Keflezighi’s outrage over not only the Compton Cookout but the racial epithet that was broadcast on SR-TV (Student Run Television) is that by UCSD being labeled as a racist campus, the campaign and efforts to attract black students is undercut.
“They are angry at us for being angry,” Keflezighi said, “but to be one percent it’s a slap in the face when this happens.”
Keflezighi also argued that although the list of demands were presented to the administration the day after the “Koala” broadcast, they had been in existence for years, but rather edited and finished for the press conference after the second incident called them to declare a state of emergency.
“The same weekend of the Compton Cookout, BSU and [another organization] had brought over 400 high school students to our campus. What does an event like this say to them? That basically if you do come here, you will be unwelcome,” Keflezighi said.
UCSD’s administration has condemned the Compton Cookout, calling the event used to “celebrate” Black History Month “offensive and an [act] of discrimination.”
The Administration also took measures to host a teach-in to promote racial sensitivity on-campus this past Wednesday, Feb. 24. However, a majority of the students attending left the teach-in and held their own protest outdoors.
The SR-TV station and all other on-campus media publications have temporarily been suspended in light of the use of the “N”-word on Koala’s broadcast. The original perpetrators of the Compton Cookout have been investigated but thus far have not been disciplined, a lack of response Keflezighi was expecting from the administration.
“When I first saw the event, I saw that over 200 people had confirmed to this party. I was shocked and angry. They obviously knew that the party was wrong because they took down the event page on Facebook but had the party anyways. This is just a direct reflection of how we feel everyday,” Keflezighi said.
Despite the recent hurdles, Keflezighi and the rest of the BSU will be working for the remainder of the year to promote the Do U.C. Us? campaign and work towards promoting a healthier climate for black students on campus.
On Feb. 26 around midnight, a noose was discovered on the seventh floor of the Geisel Library at UCSD. An anonymous message was sent to The Guardian, UCSD’s student paper, saying more were to come.
A female student attending UCSD has admitted to being responsible for hanging the noose. The student has been suspended while the incident receives further investigation.
An official condemnation was released by UCSD’s Chancellor Fox regarding the noose incident.