Targeted acts of racism not isolated incidents
Last month, the UC Davis community was once again affected by acts of intolerance. First, 25 staff members affiliated with ethnic studies departments at UC Davis were sent an email with the message “It’s okay to be white.” And just days after, racial slurs were found written in graffiti on a campus building.
We, the Editorial Board, vehemently condemn these insensitive and bigoted acts. We are extremely saddened and angered by the repeated attempts by outsiders to threaten and demean ethnic, religious and cultural groups in our community. These emails could not have come at a more hurtful time for our university, as the College of Letters and Science celebrates the 50th anniversary of its ethnic studies programs this year. A time of fond reflection was marred by deliberate, hateful rhetoric. Our hearts go out to all who have been affected by these repulsive displays.
Unfortunately, the emails and graffiti only add to the list of targeted harassment that has occurred far too frequently on our campus. Prior to these recent incidents, UC Davis had experienced multiple public displays of white nationalism and anti-Semitism dating back to 2015 and until as recently as this past September. Demonstrations of hate have become a pervasive issue at this university, and one that has caused many in our community to fear for their well-being.
Threats against the identity of one group are threats against our entire campus community, as our diversity is our most important strength. We are deeply concerned and frustrated with these incessant acts of bigotry that seek to divide us, and we again call on the university to issue a stronger, more coordinated response.
On the same day that the anonymous emails were received, Chancellor Gary May issued a statement in response, reiterating much of the same sentiments he shared when fliers with a similar message were posted around campus in 2017. While we appreciate the timely efforts of May and the administration in these matters, we ardently believe that the university can and should do more to publicly support those impacted by the acts in question. Regrettably, a trend of hateful messages persists within our university. Those affected deserve more than just a single statement of apology, and shouldn’t be tasked with addressing these issues without continued support from the university. Instead, UC Davis would greatly benefit from a measured, systematic action plan to actively combat hate and uplift and protect those who are at risk of being targeted by it.
There is no doubt that this country is experiencing a rising tide of overt racism, nativism and hate. These recent cases remind us that, while UC Davis prides itself on being an extraordinarily progressive and tolerant place, there are individuals outside of the university and in our locality who possess blatantly hateful beliefs. When specific groups are targeted by horrific propaganda, the university has a responsibility to comprehensively ensure that those affected are made to feel safe from further harm.
The Editorial Board challenges UC Davis administrators to listen to the needs of those affected and take all necessary actions to see that those needs are met. If this is truly an institution that does “not tolerate racism in any form,” then it’s past time for the administration to do more to up to that claim.
Written by: The Editorial Board