Editorials, Opinions

Our View: Media spotlights racism

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.


  1. Pingback: CSULB Daily 49er Stands With Racism | Unlearned

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    Kevin Clinton

    The 49er editorial staff has a racism problem. This article makes it painfully clear that you are supporting systemic racism.

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    I respectfully disagree.

    It would be wonderful to think that racism on college campuses are isolated incidents, but it’s actually the campus climate that allows racism to happen on a daily basis. I have never observed as much intolerance and discrimination as I did in my undergrad days – which was on a UC campus – and as a white student I can only imagine that I only saw the tip of the iceberg.

    The problem is that racism isn’t only present, but tolerated on college campuses. In my campus, there were many demonstrations that were held to bring light to the racist activities that were being purported by my classmates. However, administration seems more interested in sweeping everything under the rug than addressing the racism that so obviously exists. It’s these dismissive attitudes that allow us to reach the point where a black student can be forcefully tied up by his white roommates at San Jose State University before we admit that there just may be a racism issue on campus.

    The problem with silence (not addressing racism) is that it implies tolerance. If the administration doesn’t speak up against racism, it suggests that the actions are valid. If the media doesn’t report on the incidents then the issue stays hidden. The civil rights movement wasn’t started because people thought “there will always be racists, let’s just quietly learn to live with it”.

    If a couple of apples on a tree go bad, perhaps you don’t chop the entire thing down, but it’s worth looking into what is causing them to go bad in the first place.

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    “The involvement of the press in these cases is serving to exacerbate existing racial tensions.” I disagree. It is an absurd fallacy to suggest that when students are subjected to unhealthy, threatening, or offensive environments choose to vocalize their disdain through any means, including the media, are exacerbating racial tensions. They are exposing the hostile, unwelcoming environments that are incubated in spaces where others, like who ever wrote this article, are willing to dismiss. Racism, prejudice, and bias are everywhere, on that I can agree, but they will never be alleviated unless we are willing to openly (and critically) confront them.

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