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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Editorial: Administration responds to open letter on campus climate

Forum held today to begin discussions

The UC Davis women’s lacrosse team faced heavy backlash from the campus community this week after a Facebook photo of eight players dressed in culturally insensitive attire resurfaced after its initial posting in October.

Originally taken during a Halloween-themed team practice, the photo specifically targeted the Chicana/o and Latina/o community, and received negative reactions from a variety of students. UC Davis Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Adela de la Torre immediately responded to these concerns in an email sent last Friday, in which she called upon the student community to practice “cultural humility” and ensured that UC Davis Athletics would take the appropriate steps to prevent similar offenses in the future.

The photo is just one of many incidences of blatant racial discrimination at the university this year, as outlined last Monday in an open letter drafted and signed by undergraduate students, campus organizations, ASUCD officials and community members.

The letter, addressed to UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and senior UC Davis administration, expressed disappointment in how little the university’s Principles of Community are enforced. Specifically, it stated that the university has failed to prevent several incidents of racial insensitivity, and thus has contributed to the lack of a safe and respectful space for students of color on campus.

Recognizing that many issues of cultural discrimination on campus often go unnoticed without appropriate action, The California Aggie Editorial Board commends the rapid and effective student response in regards to this incident. We understand how wide the scope of this problem is on the university level and believe that strong student activism is key to making successful change.

We hope that in cooperation with the student body, the UC Davis administration will  take steps to combat acts of cultural and religious insensitivity. We recognize that some of these efforts have already been made. Chancellor Katehi’s prompt and timely response to the open letter via email not only demonstrates that she is prioritizing campus climate-related issues, but also that she has concrete plans set in place moving forward.

The Editorial Board appreciates that the administration understands the magnitude of the problem and is taking active steps to combat it, starting with the open forum held today at 12 p.m. with de la Torre. Given the large number of discriminatory incidents by UC Davis students and campus leaders this year, it is crucial that these discussions between students and administrators continue in order to foster sustained dialogue.

Graphic by Jennifer Wu.

 

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