Tritons 4 Trump: Raising Questions about Equality, Diversity, and Community

“We acknowledge that our society carries historical and divisive biases based on race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs. Therefore, we seek to foster understanding and tolerance among individuals and groups, and we promote awareness through education and constructive strategies for resolving conflict.”

“We reject acts of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs, and, we will confront and appropriately respond to such acts.”

“We are committed to the highest standards of civility and decency toward all. We are committed to promoting and supporting a community where all people can work and learn together in an atmosphere free of abusive or demeaning treatment.”

  • UCSD Principles of Community

As I read these, I cannot help but reflect on UCSD’s tremulous past relationship with its proclaimed tenets for respect, equality, and diversity.  The Compton Cookout most notably, which occurred in 2010, was a party organized in order to mock black history month, by inviting people to come out with watermelon, fried chicken, and their nappiest hair in tow.  Following the incident, somebody hung a noose outside of Geisel, while someone draped a KKK hood over the Doctor Suess statue on Geisel.  While many claim the party intended to do no harm, one cannot ignore the history of violence, discrimination, and dehumanization these stereotypes reflect, and by nature, perpetuate.  When people reduce others to a few demeaning ideas, and use language which is racist, and therefore embedded with histories of violence and subjugation, there is no room for respect, equality, or honoring diversity.  

 

Today, this has reemerged in a different form.  On the evening before Triton day, an unknown group or individual chalked the messages “Tritons 4 Trump,” “Build a Wall, Deport Them All,” and Mexicans will pay” directly in front of the Raza Resource Centro, a UCSD Community Center which emphasizes support for UCSD’s Latina/o and Chicana/o students, though it is available as a resource for whoever wishes to utilize the center.  While the chalking expressing pro Trump sentiments would not be an explicit violation of the UCSD Principles of Community, the latter statements, especially with their location taken into consideration, are hate speech, and clear violations of the Principles of Community.  What do these principles of community exist for, other than as empty words to promote the image of equality and acceptance if incidents like these keep happening?

 

While each college sent out messages regarding the incident, the email from campuswide administration was expectedly vague.  In the email, the administration stated that they do not condone such acts, and such acts are violations of community guidelines.  However, notably absent from the email was a message on how to appropriately respond and confront the act, or on education and constructive conflict resolution.  After I read the email, I couldn’t help but feel as if it was only sent out because the administration did not want their image tarnished.  

 

There are many questions which have yet to be answered.  What steps should UCSD’s administration take to resolve this injustice?  What does this say about the campus climate on diversity?  If the people who committed this act are caught, what should the punitive measure be?  If anything, it is my hope that this incident will foster discussions among students, bring to light racial issues which many people suppress and ignore, and foster collective action working toward education and recognition of historical and systematic discrimination.  So here’s an extra homework assignment, actually worth your while.  Go think about these questions, talk about them with your friends, and contemplate what you can do, whether it's speaking out when you see something wrong, or something more.