Trouble’s a ‘Bruin on campus at University of California, Los Angeles — or so the media would have you believe. Major campus events like basketball games don’t seem to be enough to distract the public eye from a barrage of headlines that claim the campus climate is riddled with racism.
Lately, nearly every major news media outlet has been following the “alleged racism” occurring on UCLA’s campus.
Almost a month ago, UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center received a derogatory flier that targeted a number of ethnic groups, especially Asian women.
And, just last week, an African-American law student at UCLA received an anonymous note in her mailbox that read, “Stop being a sensitive ni**er,” according to the Huffington Post.
Media outlets, including NBC, CBS and the Los Angeles Times, have reported on the “growing racial tension” at UCLA. Stories have focused on the need to restructure the campus climate in order to create a safe and peaceful environment for all students.
Our immediate thought was that racism exists everywhere, so why is UCLA’s campus climate getting so much attention on this issue?
If a couple of apples on a tree are bruised and go bad, do you chop the whole thing down? No, you don’t and don’t let the media tell you otherwise.
We think the notion that UCLA has a racist climate is more likely a result of the media storm that has propped the university up as having a climate of racism in recent years.
In November 2012, LA Weekly reported that the school had a “serial idiot on its hands” in an article, headlined “Asian Women Targeted in Another Act of Sexist, Racist Vandalism at UCLA.”
Prior to that article, in May 2012, ABC local reported that even a university doctor accused the campus of racial discrimination. There was apparently somewhat of a back-and-forth between the doctor and other faculty, as they defended the campus and said his claims were a ruse to bring about his tenure.
There is no doubt that racist incidents occur on campus at UCLA, but the same is likely true for most college campuses. In fact, isn’t racism simply a sad, lingering fact of the American climate in general?
We would like to see media reports that don’t seek to characterize UCLA’s campus climate as overtly racist. The university prides itself on its diversity, as does the entire UC system.
This is probably why UCLA is currently conducting a study of campus climate that will wrap up at the end of this spring semester. The UCLA Faculty Association blog posted that the survey is a response to the “racial incidents” on campus.
We appreciate that the campus, along with the rest of the UC system, is taking steps toward ensuring a campus devoid of racial hatred.
However, we think continuing to feature the perpetrators of these actions across the media does more harm than good.
The involvement of the press in these cases is serving to exacerbate existing racial tensions.
There is no need to taint the image of a successful university by using a handful of incidents of racism to support claims about the campus as a whole. Let’s stop turning these racists into celebrities.