Last Friday, Chancellor Katehi sent a rare message addressing racist incidents on campus. There was one for the racist vandalism on the civil rights movement anniversary a few months ago. The time before was two years ago — regarding a noose that appeared during a diversity conference (with no mention of the swastikas that came with it). There was not a peep from the Katehi, or usually anyone else in the administration, for many of the other reported incidents in between, some of which involved physical threats, assault, or violence.
Katehi’s message conveniently arrived on the Friday before the Thanksgiving Break when The Aggie won’t be publishing for two weeks and most people are too busy with holiday plans to take notice of the news.
This particular missive was in response to two separate incidents of students being harassed by tormenters in cars yelling racial slurs. It’s not uncommon to hear derogatory language on campus, so I’m curious as to why these particular incidents were taken seriously.
Katehi ends the email with the usual imploring to always report such incidents to the police or the administration — yet Davis continues to make this difficult by not having an online form or any way to report anonymously. Some of us have been put through the ringer by the Davis machine and aren’t so trusting that their concerns will be handled without retaliation, especially when recently administrators and campus police did nothing but look on while students were threatened for their ethnicity.
Another surprise in Katehi’s message was the reference to Kristallnacht. Despite writing about the noose during the Students of Color Conference in 2011, Katehi made no mention of the swastikas that also appeared at the time, despite it also being the same month as Kristallnacht.
This might have something to do with the growing concerns of Jewish students, as summarized in Jewish Students Uncomfortable on Campus. It’s not uncommon to hear anti-Semitic slurs, stereotyping or rhetoric on campus. However, I bet Jewish students would appreciate having police and administrators actually take action when they are present when Jewish students are harassed and assaulted on campus or even neutral observers are stalked and harassed for supporting free speech of Jewish students, instead of just throwing a passing reference in an email that wasn’t meant to be read.