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Davis, California

Monday, April 22, 2024

UC community inquires into motivations behind hate crimes, prejudice

Recent hate crimes and actions targeting racial, religious and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities at UC Davis and other UC campuses have left the university community wondering what could have motivated these acts of intolerance.

On Mar. 3 – the same day as a student-led march against hate and discrimination – campus police found three swastikas spray-painted on university grounds.

On Feb. 19 a swastika was carved on the door of a Jewish student at the Tercero dormitories. The LGBT Resource Center was also vandalized with defamatory messages targeting the LGBT community.

Incidents that have heightened tensions also occurred on other UC campuses. On Feb. 18, UC San Diego members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity held “Compton Cookout,” a barbeque event that mocked Black History Month with racial stereotypes.

A noose was also found drawn in a UC Santa Cruz bathroom with the words “lynch” and “San Diego” written next to it. At UC Irvine, 11 students were arrested for interrupting the speech of visiting Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.

Mohamed Buzayan, a sophomore civil engineering major who participated in the anti-bigotry protest, said the lack of swift disciplinary action by university officials for these and other acts may have prompted subsequent crimes.

“They took notice to students at UC San Diego, and they’ve seen no disciplinary action and nobody got caught,” Buzayan said. “So they knew they were going to get away with their crimes and so they went and started committing them.”

Even so, he said action against those responsible represents short-term answers to a long-term problem.

Buzayan urged the UC administration to educate students, starting at the first-year level, about diversity and appreciating equality. He believes this would teach students about acceptable behavior on campus and prevent further bigotry.

“We need to start showing students that this is not tolerable, that we’re not going to take this anymore,” Buzayan said. “I’m not just thinking about me. I worry about the future right now.”

His proposal is part of a set of 11 demands published by UC Davis students concerned with discrimination, which includes calls for increased hiring of “minority faculty” and admission of students without regards to race.

Yet because no one has been caught, hate crime experts can only speculate on the motivations that may have compelled those responsible.

Gregory Herek, a UC Davis professor of psychology, said that hatred may have played a role in these crimes, but peer pressure to commit vandalism or thrill seeking could have also motivated them to do it.

“I’d say that we don’t necessarily know what the motivations of the perpetrators are,” Herek said. “Whoever did it, it’s quite possible that they believe that somehow committing these actions would receive approval from the larger society, that they felt a sense of permission.”

Bruce Haynes, UC Davis professor of sociology and expert on race and ethnic group relations, said that while the ideas of diversity and inclusiveness should not be equated entirely with the hate crimes, they are related issues.

“Someone puts nooses around campus or makes gay and lesbian students feel threatened,” Haynes said. “That’s very different than do we have a campus climate of inclusiveness and that’s still different than do we have a diverse student body, a diverse faculty body or administration. I do think it draws attention to the lack of diversity that is apparent on our campus, and many of other UC campuses.”

In 1999, Herek co-authored a study on hate crimes that targeted lesbians, gays and bisexuals which found that hate crimes based on sexual identity caused their victim to experience more depression, anxiety, anger and traumatic stress than victims of non-biased crimes.

More recently, Herek has documented the prevalence of sexual orientation crimes. In a 2009 national study, 20 percent of respondents reported personal and property crimes based on sexual identity. One in 10 said they experienced housing and employment discrimination.

He said these recent crimes might add to the existing vulnerability felt by the targeted groups.

“This was not a new experience for them,” Herek said. “It was simply consistent with things they’ve felt all along.”

Speaking on the impact these acts might have on race relations, Haynes said the increased racial awareness of students was a positive response despite some of the episodes being unrelated.

“When the Klan comes to your town to march,” Haynes said, “I think the best thing to do is to counter-protest, that makes clear community sentiment. I do think a vocal response is appropriate.”

LESLIE TSAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


  1. Darfur is racially and/or religiously based, therefore, genocide. No wonder the British are such laughing stocks; how’s that “empire” of yours? And ask any teacher at UC Davis (or probably any other college)if they get a LIST of names at the start of every quarter that includes the names of all members of student gov’t and others who have some sort of special deal going on with a professor; students on this LIST get grades two levels above what they deserve. How old were you when you realized you liked the taste of penis, Gunnery?

  2. Ha! I like this Gaylord Gunnery fellow. My sentiments precisely. Tell me lad, are you from the Isles? I’m in Carrickfergus, NI. Funny there should be two Brits here on this forum. And for you, Monsieur MaoSayTongue I won’t even add anything. Thought, Monsieur Gunnery, I will give that piece of literature you suggest a read. Very well. Good day. TJM

  3. Hahahaha oh MaoSayTongue, you just provided the worst supporting argument for one of the top 3 mass murders in the last few centuries. Mao made it a point to divide and conquer his own countrymen. If that’s not genocidal then we might as well call what’s happening in Darfur just a little skirmish. Please keep your pedantic drivel up because you are hilarious. Have you even read about what Mao did? Anyone that stood in his personal way of supreme military power would be killed or silenced. He CREATED minorities by killing so many people, especially during the Long March. He had little regard for human life other than his own. He left his wife and children to die in many cases. Those who politically disagreed with him were killed and “disappeared” much like the Dirty War in Argentina in the 1970s. But I’m sure that is beyond your knowledge. Read “MAO” by Jung Chang and then come back to me with your arguments. Otherwise, in regards to your accusations of a LIST and calling me a cry-baby victim group representative I am none of the aforementioned. I bet you must have plenty of conspiracy theories too about the government and how they keep LISTs. Joyous. But then again I am quite sure you’ve led a perfect life with a clean course through it too, eh old chap? Most of your comments on this periodical’s website are about as pointless as heterosexual advice from columnist Mario Lugo. See, even I can make analogies. Oh boy it’s fun! Read a book sometime you bloody fool.

  4. What ethnic, religious, and cultural “minorities” did Mao round up? The counterevolutionaries, corrupt politicians, and snake oil salesmen? That is not genocide. Did he round up all the Tibetans and gas them or throw them into concentration camps? No, he made them Chinese citizens. Did he round up and kill all the Uigars? No, he welcomed them into the communist state. Mao may have been a bad guy, but he didn’t engage in genocide; calling him a genocidaire is like calling John Wayne Gacy one: it makes no sense. Churchill’s signing off on the ethnic cleansing and bombing of Kurd civilians after WWI was genocide; the Cultural Revolution wasn’t.

  5. TJ Maxx–What race, religion, or culture did Mao try to exterminate? Do you even know what genocide is? And hanging IS compassionate–compared to the former methods used, such as drawing and quartering or the iron maiden. If you can’t follow my error-strewn writing, then methinks that you have eyes, but cannot see and ears, but do not listen. Finally, you don’t deny the existence of the LIST nor do you deny that there really were no nooses, just lengths of rope–which crybaby victim group do you represent? The gay teachers? The ones who laugh all the way to the bank as they cash thier unearned gov’t checks and getting expensive AIDS cocktails through their Cadillac healthcare plans? Teachers complaining about high tuition rates are like lawyers complaining about high legal fees or heroin-dealers complaing about the high cost of a fix.

  6. MaoSayTongue –

    For a person who attempts to belittle the acts on campus commenting with a name that is a play on words of one of the worst genocidal leaders in all of the world and a man who practiced outright hatred and prejudice, I find your comment hilariously pathetic. I’m sure that those who were hanged in the past all over the world were not in agreeance with you about the consideration that it is ‘compassionate justice’. In addition I cannot follow your mumbled and error-strewn writing. Methinks you forgot to attend your introductory grammar lectures! Lastly, I’m sure you would love to attend a school where teachers’ “exhorbitant salaries” do not drive up tuition. I’ll tell you where you can go for that: enroll in the University of Phoenix. If you really think giving teachers pay cuts is the answer to lower cost and better education in your state of California then you are sorely mistaken laddy. Cheerio.

  7. Maybe the nooses are meant for the teachers–the people whose exhorbitant salaries are driving up our tuition; or for the administrators who laugh at us as we walk to class, knowing that they can buy and sell our indebted azzes. How can anyone read a racial motive in that? And aren’t most of these “nooses” just lengths of rope without any sort of hangman’s knot in them anyway? Crying about what a “victim” one is is certainly a good way to get noticed on large overpopulated campuses like UC Davis. Heck, anyone who doesn’t leave themselves a noose to cry about is kind of dumb, it’ll raise your grades–the LIST that is sent around to all the teachers at the start of every quarter will have your name on it and your Cs will become As (or Bs if you deserve Ds).

    Besides, the noose is a sign of compassionate justice–representing the most painless method of pre-industrial execution by the State.

    Mellow out, folks.


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