Wednesday, September 22, 2021
HomeOpinionEditorialsEditorial: UCI Must Not Remain On The Side Of The Oppressor

Editorial: UCI Must Not Remain On The Side Of The Oppressor

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Editor’s note: Although UCI has not confirmed whether Jyntrae McPherson was involved in the incident that went viral on social media, the New University Editorial Board has read and heard enough arguments that suggest that McPherson — a UCI student — was involved. You can read more about the incident here.

We cannot stay silent as we see who we believe is a UCI student hitting protesters with their vehicle. Jyntrae McPherson may not have been driving the Jeep that hit Karina Ramirez and another protester, but she was in that car, her car. George Floyd was killed by a police officer who pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck, but he couldn’t have done that if he hadn’t been assisted by the other three officers who did nothing while he cut off Floyd’s air supply. The thing is that McPherson being in that car works as an equivalent — she stood by as the man behind the wheel put his foot on the gas.

I am disappointed by the UCI administration for their lack of care. The university released a statement on Twitter and on their Instagram story only saying that they were “deeply alarmed” by the video, and I question their honesty. It is disrespectful to address this issue through social media; by doing so, UCI is reducing the incident to something that will disappear in 24 hours — UCI is telling particularly their Black student population that they don’t care about their struggles. The university does not appear to have the decency to talk about this properly, to at least have a press release addressing the matter. 

This university will publish press release after press release to celebrate the different accomplishments of the UCI community, but why hide the racism that plagues this school? The UCI administration does not get a pat on the back for writing only 56 empty words on their Instagram story. It would have been somewhat okay if they had released that immediately after the video showing McPherson was released, but they waited 12 hours to say something that meant nothing. Even as numerous students emailed members of the UCI administration, UCI administrators replied with almost the exact same 56 words. 

I want to stress that this issue goes beyond political party association. We all saw the video of three people hitting two people who were protesting Floyd’s murder. In what world is it acceptable for a major education institution to express that they’re “deeply alarmed” only through social media? Where are the consequences? They can’t just handle this issue privately, they need to publicly hold themselves and the perpetrators of the incident accountable.

I have no idea nor will I ever fully understand what it feels like to be Black in this campus. However, I and many others have the ability to empathize with a community that continues to be disrespected by those who are supposed to guarantee them a proper college experience. This campus has a reputation of not supporting its Black students, as there have been and continue to be too many incidents where the perpetrators suffer no major consequences.

UCI is once again encouraging racism to continue in this campus. “UCI Leadership” continues to send emails that hold no one responsible for their anti-Blackness. Their silence is deafening as they hide behind the privilege that allows them to disregard McPherson’s attack.

Oriana Gonzalez is the 2019-2020 Editor-In-Chief. She can be reached at

As of now, more people have been arrested for protesting the Police’s murder of George Floyd than the amount of police responsible for his death. These protests started and fomented around holding the police and the institutions backing them to account for the crimes they commit towards the Black population of America. Let’s be frank: Jyntrae McPherson was more than fine with her friend running over protesters with her car, and as of now has not been so much as investigated by UCI. UCI is sending the same message of complacency that these protests are striving to repudiate by not taking swift action against McPherson for her role in bringing harm to protesters

Too many protesters have been arrested while those who seek to do harm to them not only walk free, but receive press conferences. We cannot let McPherson off the hook for what equates to an attempt at voluntary vehicular manslaughter. While McPherson was not herself at the wheel, it was her car being driven, and she could have stopped the driver if she wanted. McPherson made the decision not to act, the same decision that three officers made when their co-worker Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd.

UCI’s lackluster response came hours after the incident, and said as little as possible without promising any action. We need to hold McPherson accountable for her actions and excise her from the UCI community entirely. I do not think it should be a controversial statement to say that UCI should not harbor someone willing to partake in what could have been a murder. I don’t want to be on campus with a person who would run me over, and I especially don’t want to be on a campus that would allow such a person there.

Nicolas Perez is a 2019-2020 Opinion Co-Editor. He can be reached at

As a student of UCI — the university that’s been using the New York Times’ label of “#1 college doing the most for the American Dream” from 2017 as their only talking point on diversity — I can’t say I’m surprised at Jyntrae McPherson’s involvement. Not a single promoted “point of pride” for UCI involves our abysmal number of Black students and professors — and in fact, it should gnaw at both the campus’ and students’ consciences to claim UCI as diverse. The amount of students I’ve encountered who’ve said that they’ve never witnessed diversity at a scale larger than UCI is horrifying. How can you sit down in your class on African American literature, taught by a non-Black professor, in a room of little-to-no Black students around you, and think that is what diversity is? 

Just this February, Shikera Chamndany was arrested during a wildcat strike for COLA. Chamndany was not involved nor affiliated with the strike, so why, exactly, was she tackled and arrested by Trish Harding? When UCI’s Black Student Union and United Nations Against Sweatshops demanded accountability, and when they made their petition, still not a single update was provided by the University. Even the UCI IFA Board asked for some form of “transparency and clarity” on the situation, and, once again, we were given nothing from Chancellor Gillman. Chamndany may have been released the following day, but it is this ear-shattering silence that echoes throughout the Black community on campus. As of today, only 1,801 signatures are on the petition, and that’s coming from a campus of more than 37,000 students

Yet, you may still look at the three students — Jyntrae McPherson, Jacob Robles and Dylan Mota — in that car and think, “why?” Who would heckle and charge at protestors who are risking their lives mid-pandemic in the safety of your own Jeep? Well, it’s the kind of student who has the comfort of being white in America. It’s the kind of student whose own Chancellor refuses to investigate, with any sense of urgency, on the behalf of Black students. It’s the kind of student who goes to UCI — and all of us, non-Black students, should be so, so ashamed. 

The protests go beyond Derek Chauvin’s choice to murder George Floyd. UCI and UCI PD’s history of mistreatment of Black lives makes that clear. Demand justice. Sign petitions. Donate. Abolish the police.

So, fiat lux, my fellow anteaters. Your silence only sheds light on this institution’s failure to educate you on why Black lives matter.

Jin Hee Park is a 2019-2020 Opinion Co-Editor. She can be reached at

The lack of intervention on the UCI administration’s part following the crime committed yesterday in Visalia, CA is unlike the UCI I know to love and find pride in. It is a direct response and message to our Black community on campus that their lives are not as important as that of their fellow classmates.

The administration’s lack of involvement in releasing information to their students (other than social media) is their way of saying they do not wish to see justice served for Karina Ramirez (one of the people hit by the vehicle). I have received no information from my Dean of Students or any facility addressing the criminal activity of Jyntrae McPherson. Usually, I am bombarded with emails asking for me to enter contests or about new research at UCI, but when a student is involved in criminal activity I receive no emails.

They are protecting and allowing a person who has had involvement in the hatred displayed in Visalia. They do not want the “brand” of UCI to be ruined by a student. The student body needs to hear from their administration before they see a video on social media of three white people running over protesters at a rally orchestrated for the awareness of racial inequalities in our country. Silence sometimes speaks louder than words.

Jyntrae McPherson was not driving the vehicle, but she allowed someone else to drive the vehicle (the person driving was probably uninsured to drive the blue Jeep) through the protester territory. She had just as much malicious intent as the driver did when he ran over Karina Ramirez and the other protester.

Where is the UCI administration when we need to hear from them most?

Christina Reyes is a 2019-2020 Sports Co-Editor. She can be reached at

It continues to be a shame the type of values our school holds during times like these. As one of the top public universities in the nation, what makes us so great? Research? Programs? Funding? All those aspects come up short when facing the realities that this school would be nothing without Black students breaking their backs for an institution that exploits the concept of “diversity” simply for an image boost. I have seen time and time again how UCI fails and neglects to partake in immediate action against discrimination and brutality, but is quick to act on opportunities of marketing and self-interest. 

The incident that occurred in Visalia, CA involving UCI student Jyntrae McPherson is almost representative of the situation that is current in our nation. People who try to voice and hold their own against oppression will get trampled by those who disregard the righteousness and equality that is desperately being fought for. In a literal sense, we saw people in that video get run over by a large vehicle that could have ended in tragedy. Now, is that something UCI wants to represent on their end?

McPherson knew the type of people she was in the vehicle with and she knew what they were literally driving into. There is no excuse. What is the UCI community representative of? This? How are staff pushing for social change if supposedly this is what they are about? Students will get emails on top of emails that go around in circles to no type of definitive solution. Those statements hold no true weight to the magnitude of the Black community’s despair against a system that wants them dead. 

Those statements released always end with “Let there be light.” Well, where is the light? I think you can show the student body by taking proper action to what is right, instead of burying this from the public like you’ve done with other calamities our campus has witnessed in the past. 

UCI’s self declared “values” do not matter until Black lives matter. 

Henry Curi is a 2019-2020 Sports Co-Editor. He can be reached at

In my three years of attending a University of California institution, I’ve been continually disappointed. It’s clear that UCI does not put the needs of their minority students first; Black and brown opinions, struggles, get gas lighted and superseded by the needs of more “important” students.

It’s the same, sad song; the same cycle of injustice that runs rampant through America. But am I surprised? Jyntrae McPherson’s attack on a peaceful protest in support of George Floyd’s murder — of course, accompanied by a flying American flag and a patriotic, blue Trump 2020 flag — perpetuates the notion that a noticeable number of those who support the president, and America, do not care for Black lives; McPherson just got caught. 

Racism, like what was expressed by McPherson, can be especially poignant on university campuses. UCI is no exception. There is little to no support for Black students or faculty on campus. As an African-American woman, I’ve felt the lack of support to my core. We have to create our own research centers, Black professors have to often put in double the work as they mentor those who mirror themselves, the Black Student Union creates its own welcome ceremony for the very few Black students that are accepted to feel “at home.” 

Don’t tell me that racism has ever gone away when institutions that allegedly provide a top rated educational experience breed close minded individuals that UCI officials are merely “deeply alarmed” by. The reaction of UCI or lack thereof is a statement in and of itself. 

Don’t tell me that racism doesn’t exist when Black people, since at least 1999, have consistently remained between 1% and 3% of the population in UCI which illustrates the non-progressive attitude that the school has maintained for over 20 years

Don’t tell me racism doesn’t exist when UCIPD suffered no repercussions for arresting and assaulting UCI alumna Shikera Chamndany for trying to obtain her transcripts just 3 months ago. 

To UCI, scholarship opportunities and grants have allowed me and other students of color to attend this university. Thank you for your press releases, emails and support. I commend you for your efforts and strides. But words are just words — is it enough? There is a plan to launch a new initiative with a more inclusive attempt at addressing anti-Black sentiments and promoting Black scholarly education, but keep in mind, individuals like McPherson and others have already slipped through the cracks. Just like our nation, you have your work cut out for you. 

For all those who remain silent, those who don’t speak out against this incident, and all the other instances of racism that will occur after — your silence is deafening. This pertains to McPherson and UCI, but especially in regard to the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery, shooting of Breonna Taylor, the murder of Floyd, and all other heinous acts committed against my fallen brothers and sisters in modern times. 

Sydney Charles is a 2019-2020 Campus News Co-Editor. She can be reached at

UCI needs to do better. Part of that doing better requires accountability. If we are to “confront the distinctive, fundamental reality of anti-Blackness,” that includes UCI looking at the ways in which it too has perpetuated anti-Blackness. I stand by my peers in asking that UCI begin to openly acknowledge and act on the forms of racial violence and injustice we have witnessed within our own community. More specifically, I ask that UCI listen to the concerns and requests of the same Black students it claims to “stand in unity with.” Just this year alone, UCI has witnessed and failed to adequately respond to the unwarranted and forceful arrest of a Black UCI alumna as well as, more recently, the vehicle collision with individuals at a protest for George Floyd, in which UCI student Jyntrae McPherson is believed to have been involved. 

I wish to reaffirm what others have already expressed in saying that we cannot work towards creating a safe or inclusive campus community when UCI fails to take disciplinary or remedial action for the same issues that it claims to condemn. As long as the university remains largely silent and fails to act upon these and other issues, it will only continue to send the signal that it is okay with such wrongs and allow such injustices to continue to repeat themselves.

Christina Acevedo is a 2019-2020 Campus News Co-Editor. She can be reached at

Whether it’s 56 or 500 or 5,000, words are empty without action. It is up to public institutions like UCI to mobilize the promises in press releases and statements into real progress. Honest investigations into cases like McPherson’s are necessary to uphold the core values that the University of California stands for: mutual respect and inclusion. 

It is also necessary to hold onto hope that change — both individual and institutional — is possible. I do not  know what was in McPherson’s heart as she sat in that blue Jeep but I know that she could have spoken up, I know that she still can. Self-examination is not easy, but neither is fighting for justice. External consequences do not guarantee anything. Transformation is a personal exercise. 

Every day since George Floyd’s tragic death has seemed bleaker than the one before. Racism across the nation, across our state, and within our very own campus must be rooted out. UCI’s leaders, especially Chancellor Gillman, have the responsibility to listen to the Black community, to hear and understand the ways in which they have felt ignored and then actively respond.

I hope that Vice Chancellor Haynes’ Fall 2020 initiative really does “ensure that our campus community is educated about anti-Blackness” and more so that it is wide ranging enough to reach the students who have the most to learn. 

Delia Cruz Kelly is a 2019-2020 Entertainment Co-Editor. She can be reached at

With an already unprecedented, catastrophic health crisis, when does the violence end? Enough is enough. The racial injustices that are ingrained in the history of our nation is only staying horrifically prominent rather than justifiably diminishing. 

Such injustice invokes a response — a response to speak up. 

With over 104,000+ COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S., violence based on one’s skin color, burning of buildings and the government being in shambles, now is the time for leadership to call out these senseless acts of violence and bloodshed. For if there is no established leadership, how can there be unity? How can there be justice? How can there be action? How can there be change?

As this violence and hate approaches and directly affects our campus community, leadership is essential. Speaking out now is of utmost importance. Being silent is to be complicit. 

Violence and being complicit is never the answer, but violence and complicity was the answer in the video where alleged UCI student Jyntrae McPherson’s Jeep ran down protesters. Although McPherson was not behind the wheel and was a passenger, could she have vocalized her frustration or emotions to the one who was?

Is this the environment that we want our future generation to live in? In violence and in hatred? In fear and in ignorance? In racism?

The answer is up to us. Now is the time to speak up. 

Ryan Mikeala Nguyen is a 2019-2020 Copy Co-Editor. She can be reached at

Tired. Exhausted. Fed up. These are all emotions that I have felt during these past few days and UCI – you’re one of the reasons why. It saddens me that the campus I walk on is the very same institution that ignores the pleas, cries and hurt of Black and brown students. You benefit from the trophies of “diversity” that are plastered all throughout your pamphlets and promotional videos, yet when these students need you most, you don’t speak up for them. 

For many, Jyntrae McPherson is a student. Possibly a classmate, or a former hallmate even. But understand, she represents larger than that. She represents the unresolved cases of assault of Black students in prior years. She can be seen in the Black Student Union protests that were heavily policed, while other organizations shouted freely. There’s remnants of her in the incident of Shikera Chamndany, who was viciously and innocently tackled to the ground by UCIPD. Jyntrae McPherson’s actions exhibit the countless anti-Black crimes that have occurred on this campus and furthermore, UCI’s resistance to take accountability for them. By loosely condemning her role in oppression with no disciplinary action, the university is once again showing its true colors. Only this time, more people are paying attention.

Chancellor Gillman says that UCI empathizes with Black students but as a Black woman who has witnessed the anti-Black rhetoric and behavior that has occurred on this campus for the past four years, I’m unsure if “empathize” even makes the cut. One cannot empathize the struggle and plight of an oppressed people until you first simply acknowledge their humanity first. If we are the community that you say we are, then we must not let the hatred and anti-Blackness of our own be ignored. What good do our values of respect, inclusion and community do if they aren’t true for all of our students? How can we truly “shine brighter”? 

You said we could reach out if we need help. So, here we are. Words have power. Action has even more. UCI, if you want a brighter future, you must speak for it. You must want it. You must fight for it, and more importantly, for us. 

Alexis Cormier is the 2019-2020 Graphic Design Manager. She can be reached at

Why is it that our schools and our governments recognize tragedy only when there is public outcry? Why is it that the desire to maintain face outweighs the needs of the students and citizens?

With regards to our treatment of Black students, we have failed as an institution and we have failed as a country. 

UCI has shown a poor record of African American representation on campus, with a disappointingly small 2%  Black student population. UCI has had an even more poor response to police brutality. With the arrest of Shikera Chamndany and the sparse response to police brutality and systematic racism against Africans Americans, it is clear that supporting Black students and fighting against racism are secondary. 

This school is my second home and I am proud to be an Anteater. However, I am very disappointed in UCI’s behavior. In response to a UCI student, Jyntrae McPherson, and two other CSU Fresno students hitting protesters with her car, UCI barely said anything. They gave a small social media post and a few terse emails responding to students. The words given by UCI administrators were so brief as to be ingenuine. 

While I am not proud of our school today, I am proud of our students. Students have spread petitions like wildfire, protesting, providing the names of organizations against racism and police brutality. They are making sure the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are kept alive. 

UCI Admin, I think it is time to take a lesson from your students. 

Don’t give us words, give us action. 

Michelle Cornelius is a 2019-2020 City News Co-Editor. She can be reached at

By failing to condemn Jyntrae McPherson’s actions, we as a university are standing silent in acceptance that McPherson’s views represent that of the entire institution. UCI has the audacity to take pride in its status as a top university for first generation students when it does little to provide support for these students who are largely people of color.

UCIPD goes as far as to claim that the actions of the Minneapolis police “violate what we stand for, the oath we all swear to uphold and the public trust of the communities we vow to protect and serve regardless of race” when their arrest of Shikera Chamndany shows blatant disregard for the very ideas they claim to stand for.

Chancellor Howard Gillman tells us that we must be in this together to survive as a nation and as a society, but how can we be together in a time like this when we’ve been bred to stay divisive for generations? UCI has hardly done its part in fostering community among its dwindling population of Black students. In the past twenty years, the campus Black demographic has never once climbed above the single digits.

UCI has been dormant for far too long. Pretty words won’t do anything for George Floyd. For Breonna Taylor. For Ahmaud Arbery. For the countless Black men and women that have lost their lives in meaningless bloodshed. 

Anti-Black sentiment is real, and there needs to be complete reform of not only law enforcement, but the education system as well. If people like McPherson can be an accessory to attempted murder and walk away unscathed as a member of our campus community, there is something severely wrong with the way we evaluate our students.

Silence is the loudest sound when there are people crying out for help to those with the power to enact change.

Let there be light shed upon the darkness that prevails these recent events.

Chelsea Pan is a 2019-2020 City News Co-Editor. She can be reached at

It is time for all of us, including the UCI and UC administrations, to take action. As UCI students witnessing recent events, it has been disappointing and illuminating to see the response, or lack thereof, from our school. The failure to formally condemn Jyntrae McPherson and her actions does not reflect the values that UCI students hold, and it does not reflect the values we expect to see from institutions of higher education. A short statement on Twitter and Instagram is not an appropriate response, and it neither sufficiently conveys the gravity of this issue nor inspires confidence in how seriously the school is taking this incident.

Though McPherson was not behind the wheel when her vehicle hit protesters, she was complicit in the act, and she needs to be held accountable. This behavior cannot be condoned not only because it was an act of violence and showed disregard for the value of human life, but also because it represents a lack of respect for protesters and the legitimacy of the discrimination Black Americans face in this country. 

This was not simply a case of attempted vehicular manslaughter — though despicable even when considered by itself — but is much more complicated and concerning because of the intentional choice to cause harm to a George Floyd protester in particular. 

The protests demanding justice for George Floyd and an end to police brutality against African Americans have drawn thousands of protesters across the nation and around the world. It is time to recognize that white privilege and anti-Black sentiment exist, and it is time to become part of the solution and to stand in solidarity with this cause. We cannot continue to support administrations that encourage racism, as our current president does, and we need to take action in the upcoming election to remove the current administration. If UCI and the UC system want to be seen as administrations which stand idly by as injustices occur, they will only be alienating their students.

The act of intentionally causing harm to a George Floyd protester in particular cannot be separated from racial tensions. The act was so appalling for this reason, and it demands an appropriate response from the UCI and UC administrations.

The protests are happening because the concerns of the people aren’t being heard and addressed. Now is not the time to be “deeply alarmed.” Now more than ever we need to educate ourselves in regards to the struggles of Black and minority populations — now more than ever we need to understand and take part in making them heard — now more than ever we need to take lead and take action.

Jane Hagen is the 2019-2020 Managing Editor and the 2020-2021 Editor-In-Chief. She can be reached at