In winter 2010, fraternity members at the University of California, San Diego, held a racist party for Black History Month, an infamous event known as the Compton Cookout. The campus erupted in protest and made conversation about racism front and center at UCSD.
Not long after the party invite came to light, a noose was found hanging in the main library, a Ku Klux Klan-style hood was placed on a statue nearby, and The Koala, a controversial campus publication known for hateful rhetoric, used slurs to ridicule black students.
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Black students, who made up 1.8 percent of UCSD’s student body at the time, had long known about racism on campus. Yet the party plans and the following events were stark symbols for the rest of the community.
The university now has a Black Resource Center and a Raza Resource Centro, both with full-time professional staff and student interns. All undergraduate students are required to take at least one of a set of classes covering issues of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” and the school appointed a Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
Seven years later, racism is still expressed on the UCSD campus where black students comprised only 2.5 percent of the student body in 2016. Despite defunding by the UCSD student government, The Koala still exists at UCSD and continues to publish racist articles. Anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, and pro-Trump messages surfaced across campus this spring – the night before UCSD’s Triton Day, when thousands of prospective students visit the campus. Messages included “Build the wall” and “Deport them all.” One was scrawled directly in front of the Raza Resource Centro.
After the Compton Cookout, the Black Student Union demanded vigorous recruitment of underrepresented groups, re-apportionment of resources to both recruitment and retention programs, and for additional “points” to be given to first-generation college students and those who came from lower-performing high schools in California.
In 2013, the same year that the Black Resource Center opened, Chancellor Pradeep Khosla created the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship Program. Funded by private donations, the scholarship program is part of the Student Retention and Success Team. As its stated mission, the program “recognizes and supports talented local students with financial need and great potential and motivation to academically succeed at UC San Diego.” In order to do so, UCSD works with schools and organizations that “serve and work with historically underserved communities that embrace principles of access, equity, and diversity in higher education similar to UC San Diego.”
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