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Please do not repost without my permission.

  • Chancellor Gene Block (chancellor@ucla.edu)
  • Vice Chancellor Robert Naples (rnaples@saonet.ucla.edu)

I emailed the following to Chancellor Block and Vice Chancellor Naples at 3P on Monday, March 14:

Dear Chancellor Gene Block and Vice Chancellor Robert Naples,

I am a two-time graduate of UCLA. I graduated with my BA in History and Asian American Studies in 2002 and earned my MA in Asian American Studies in 2004. I went on to earn my PhD and MS in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois in 2009, and am now an assistant professor at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN, where I teach future librarians and advise the undergraduate Asian Women’s Association. The education I earned at UCLA was meaningful and served me well for my future endeavors. I am proud to be a UCLA alum.

However, I am incredibly upset at the recent video posted by current UCLA student Alexandra Wallace. Her hateful speech against Asian American students indicates that her education is failing her; if UCLA was providing Ms. Wallace with an education that “[fosters] open-mindedness, understanding, compassion and inclusiveness among individuals and groups,” then she would not have thought these thoughts and posted them so publicly on FB and YouTube. The way she states “our university” implies that she believes UCLA is a white institution and that Asians are perpetual foreigners undeserving of such an education. She also makes Asian Americans sound weak when she says that our parents have not taught us to “fend for [ourselves],” which perpetuates stereotypes that Asian Americans do not have any agency. Having survived not one but two graduate programs and snagged a job in a down economy, I’d say my parents taught me well how to fend for myself. Additionally, in light of anti-immigration legislation, the crusade against ethnic studies across the country, and ongoing hate-crimes against Asian Americans, it is imperative that educational institutions such as UCLA, home to one of the largest and highest ranked Asian American Studies programs in the nation, take a stand against such behaviors.

Again, I quote to you UCLA’s campus values: “We do not tolerate acts of discrimination, harassment, profiling or other harm to individuals on the basis of expression of race, color, ethnicity…”

Ms. Wallace’s video is an act of discrimination and harassment, an instance of profiling, and is harmful not only to Asian Americans but also to other students. If UCLA does not respond to this, your silence implies that you condone her behavior. As I’m sure you know, this tirade has sparked an enormous uproar from not only the UCLA APA community, but beyond. We implore you to take action.

With all due respect,

Sarah Park
UCLA BA History & Asian American Studies class of 2002
UCLA MA Asian American Studies class of 2004


Sarah Park, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of LIS
St. Catherine University
spark@stkate.edu
http://sarahpark.com

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UCLA Asian Pacific Coalition students respond to the incredibly racist and offensive video (now taken down) posted by UCLA student Alexandra Wallace. The APC  response is well articulated, thoughtful, and assertive – well worth reading. Here’s an excerpt:

On Sunday, March 13th, an alarming video was re-posted on You Tube from the Facebook account of a UCLA student. The video, titled “Asians in the Library”, chronicled the student’s racist tirade against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities at UCLA. Within hours, the video re-posted on various forms of social media, where members of the community viewed and responded to the video. The resulting reaction reveals an alarmingly dangerous campus climate and an underlying current of racism and prejudice still vibrantly alive in America. The Asian Pacific Coalition and API communities at UCLA would like to issue the following response:

In her public comment to the UCLA community, Alexandra Wallace expressed her concern about the “hordes of Asian people that UCLA accepts into our school every year.”  On a campus that boasts a student population of 40% Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities (API), Wallace’s comments are both insensitive and revelatory of the flawed mainstream perception of the API community.  Many view API’s as a uniform aggregate, thereby failing to acknowledge the diversity within the API community and perpetuating the view of API’s as the model minority and the foreign “they” who unfairly get accepted into “our” school.  Wallace perpetuates the “us” versus “them” rhetoric in her comments, thereby expressing distaste in API’s and an even greater anxiety that “foreigners” are taking over UCLA.

….

Hence, as a community, we demand the following:

1) We call for a public apology from Alexandra Wallace. Her words and actions are not in line with the UCLA Student Code of Conduct, which states:

“The University strives to create an environment that fosters the values of mutual respect and tolerance and is free from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sex, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, and other personal characteristics.”[2]

2) We call for UCLA to take the appropriate disciplinary measures befitting of Wallace’s violation against the UCLA Student Code of Conduct  and UCLA’s Principle of Community, which states:

“We do not tolerate acts of discrimination, harassment, profiling or other harm to individuals on the basis of expression of race, color, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religious beliefs, political preference, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, or national origin among other personal characteristics. Such acts are in violation of UCLA’s Principles of Community and subject to sanctions according to campus policies governing the conduct of students, staff and faculty.” [3]

3) We call for UCLA to issue a statement addressing this incident.  UCLA must demonstrate its commitment to a culture of diversity, respect, tolerance, and acceptance for all communities by standing against such acts.

4) We call for the UCLA Academic Senate to pass a requirement in the general education curriculum grounded in the UCLA Principles of Community.

Some Asian Americans created a remix video overlaying Ms. Wallace’s tirade with orientalist sound effects and lyrics. I’m not going to lie; it’s pretty funny.

Shifting gears: as someone who 1) graduated from UCLA with both a BA and MA in Asian American Studies 2) was involved in UCLA Asian American student life 3) worked at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and 4) am now a professor of Library and Information Science, I have the following to say:

  1. This tirade is race-based hate speech. There’s no rationalizing or explaining it away. It’s hateful.
  2. Students who exhibit such race-based hate speech are an embarrassment to UCLA and should be duly punished for their irresponsible actions.
  3. UCLA must respond. The situation – and we – demand it.
  4. Racialized hate speech perpetuates hateful behaviors. White lynchers spoke about hating black people before lynching. Hitler and his soldiers spoke about concentration camps before they built them. I’m not suggesting that Ms. Wallace is going to go physically hurt Asian Americans, but her hateful speech condones hatred towards a particular group of students, and people act out their hate in different ways.
  5. That Ms. Wallace even thought about this, recorded and then posted her YouTube video indicates a major fail on the part of our education system. Without inclusive, social justice curriculum in Pre-K through 12th grade, and mandatory ethnic and cultural studies courses in high school and college, these kinds of behaviors will persist. We’re not a post-race society just because we have a half black president. We’re obviously not there yet. Make ethnic studies mandatory.
  6. There’s nothing “American” about good manners. See The Ugly American.
  7. It really grieves me that Ms. Wallace located her tirade in the space of the library. I see it as my moral responsibility to make sure that libraries are safe spaces for everyone – white, black, Asian, differently abled, sexually whatever.  Librarians have the right to remove patrons whose words and behaviors pose a threat or are a nuisance to other patrons, whether because they’re talking too loudly on their phones or spewing hateful speech.
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