April 7, 2016
Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
Statement in Response to Campus Chalk Writings
The UC Santa Barbara Chicana and Chicano Studies Department is deeply concerned and troubled by the highly offensive and inflammatory language that was found outside key campus locations such as the Student Resource Building (SRB), North Hall, South Hall, and the Multicultural Center (MCC) last week. North Hall displays photographic murals that depict the historic Black Student Union occupation in 1968 and South Hall is home to the Black Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and the Feminist Studies Departments. The MCC fosters cultural awareness and promotes social change through films, lectures, and artist exhibitions and the SRB houses numerous offices for the broader student community. These are all spaces that students of color, queer students, Muslim and Middle Eastern students, undocumented students, and women consider to be “safe.” We believe, therefore, the chalked writings, which included “Torture Muslims,” “Sodomy=AIDS, repent,” “Deport them all, build the wall, keep the tacos,” and “1 in 4 women are not raped,” were not a healthy exercise in free speech. They were designed to intimidate, frighten, and harass these students. One could reasonably argue that such charged rhetoric constitutes “hate speech” and in fact discourages open dialogue rather than promotes it.
Accordingly, we appreciate Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Margaret Klawunn for taking swift action to condemn such writings and to hold a town hall meeting on these issues. As an academic department committed to addressing social justice at the highest intellectual level and which emerged on this campus in 1970, we stand in solidarity with students, staff, faculty, and community members who are working for substantive change to complex issues such as racism, sexism, Islamophobia, heterosexism, economic inequality, and so on. We recognize that other campuses (such as the UC Riverside Ethnic Studies Department and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Latina/o Studies) have also been targeted and we extend our solidarity to those students, staff, and faculty too. Words can and often do wound, sometimes sparking long-term damage. Today’s times warrant sincere and productive discussion, not puerile mottos that exacerbate pre-existing tension and hostility. We call on the academy to stand above such intolerance and provide models that insure the dignity of all people.