A pair of acts of vandalism targeting the Jewish and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities has angered student groups, who have decried the incidents as hate crimes.
At the beginning of last week’s La Raza Cultural Days,sophomorepsychology major Joel Juarez placed over 75 posters in Olson, Hart, Wellman and Young halls advertising “Consciencia y Resistancia,” an event recognizing the intersection of the queer and Latino identities.
The posters depicted two men embracing each other,but nothing “graphic or offensive,” said Juarez, the Gender & Sexuality Coordinator for Yik’al Kuyum, the Chicano/a and Latino/a Holistic Student Support Program for the Student Recruitment and Retention Center.
The day after Juarez and his friends posted the signs, Juarez said he noticed that all ofthem had been taken down.
“I figured it might have been someone who was upset about the picture.I didn’t think anything of it that first time,” Juarez said.
The following day, on Apr.30, Juarez placed 75 more posters all over campus, but they too disappeared by the following morning.
Juarez said he discovered some of the posters in garbage bins, torn in half with slurs and expletives written on them.
“It creates a hostile environment for people who identify as LGBT if the campus can’t even be OK with a poster,” he said. “It definitely hurt and it showed how our campus isn’t really the best or safest place.“
Juarez said the purpose of the program advertised on the poster swas to “celebrate intersecting identities.“ The program was intended to be a safe, comfortable place with expressing two different identities that are not always permitted in the same environment,he said.
“But the fact that the posters were torn down added an element of hostility,” he said.
The Jewish community was also the target of a recent attack. On the evening of Apr.22, someone spray-painted a slur about Jews and the Nazi’s concentration camp crematoriums.
The vandalism occurred just outside the steps leading into the front entrance of Young Hall, where the Muslim Student Association was hosting an event about how French Muslims helped hide Jews during the Holocaust.
Rachel Goldstein, an intern with Hillel House at UC Davis, said she attended the 8p.m.MSA event and did not see any vandalism as she walked intothe building.Goldstein said she would have noticed any spray paint on the ground because she had just been “chalking” there the night before.
Goldstein, a sophomore international relations major, said she had to leave the presentation 20 minutes early and noticed a spray-painted Jewish star on the ground as she walked out.
Upon closer examination, Goldstein said she saw a derogatory message about Jews. Goldstein said she went back into Young Hall to summon her friends,who reported the incident to the UC Davis Police.
The incident marked the second time during this school year the Jewish community has come under attack.Last October,someone defaced a Jewish holiday booth with political messages.
In reaction to the incident,the university issued a statement declaring that “acts of hate are not acceptable and will not be tolerated on our campus.“
Goldstein said she was especially disturbed that therecentincident occurred outside ofMSA’s presentation,which was“a really positive and meaningful event.“
“To Jews,the Holocaust is something that you just don’t mess around with.It’s very personal.I felt like [the vandalism] was very purposeful,” she said.
Goldstein emphasized that she did not believe MSAwasresponsible for the vandalism.The MSA did not return an e-mail message for comment.
Mandy Beatty,a member ofUC Davis STAND,an anti-genocide group,said she was “baffled that this[vandalism] still goes on.“
“I could not believe that there was a hate crime on our campus.The student body should be up in arms,” said Beatty,a sophomore international agricultural development major.
The vandalism of the La Raza Cultural Days posters andthe painted slur outside of the MSA event have brought issues of tolerance back to the fore.
“I think homophobia is definitely still a big issue on campus,and I think a lot of people are unaware of it,” saidLGBTResourceCenterdirector Sheri Atkinson. “And I think [the poster] incident brought to light something that is a prevalent problem on campus.“
Goldstein saidHillel isn’t planning on any specific response to the vandalism,as “there’s no need to be dramatic.” Still,such an incident “can’t happen on a university campus,” she said.
“We have free speech,but there’s a fine line between hate and preaching free speech.We just need to make people remember history and their own personal communities,” she said. “It’s important to realize that we’re all part of a greater human community.“
PATRICK McCARTNEY can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.