Students join together to denounce hate crime at UC Davis

Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER
Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER

On Monday, Feb. 29, UCR’s Black Student Union (BSU) coordinated a “die-in” at the HUB Plaza in solidarity with the student of color who was recently physically attacked at UC Davis. This demonstration publically denounced the absence of a response from UC administration regarding the actions of the students responsible for what the demonstrators deemed as hate crimes.

Over 80 students participated in the demonstration and later marched to Hinderaker Hall to demand that the administration initiate further discourse on how to make the campus a safe learning environment for students of all races and ethnicities.

A large motivation behind this demonstration was the recent attack on a female African-American student, which occurred at the campus apartments of UC Davis, as well as the racially insensitive treatment of an African-American student at San Jose State University by his roommates. In addition, demonstrators were angered by the fact that the UCR administration did not release a statement denouncing the acts as terrorism. BSU Vice President of External Affairs Alexander Wilson told administrators who came out of their offices to listen to student concerns, “We just want to see that you guys care, we want you guys to say that you do not condone acts of bigotry and prejudice.”

In addition to the BSU, some students from Chicano Student Programs came out to support the cause. First-year Julian Reyes said that he felt it was important to offer support because “these are issues that affect us too, these are not just black issues, they are color issues, they are issues that concern people in underprivileged communities. We also feel the effects everyday.” This feeling was echoed as Momo Hussein and Wilson recognized that they were not only representing the concerns of African-American students, but also the concerns of other students of color on campus.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jim Sandoval, Chancellor Kim Wilcox and Provost Paul D’Anieri were all present to discuss the concerns of the students. They acknowledged that they have a responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for all students regardless of color. Sandoval confessed, “We should have immediately reached out to our black student leadership and said, ‘Let’s talk about what happened at UC Davis’ and we didn’t do that.” However, the administration did promise to release a statement condemning any and all actions of “bigotry and prejudice” within seven days of the protest.

The aftermath of the attacks at San Jose State University and UC Davis left many students of color feeling like “they are not important,”according to demonstrators. Undergraduate student Ama Serwa said that, “When it comes to students, we are all black together, if something happens to a student at Davis or Berkeley that same thing could happen to me.”

Hussein wants the administration and faculty to develop a deeper “understanding of our students and offer them mental health resources on campus, taking that extra step to make sure students feel comfortable and welcome.”

The Black Student Task Force and the administration agreed to meet the following week to reconcile their differences and formulate a plan of action in the event that any more hate crimes occur.

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