To the Campus Community:
On Friday evening, an African-American student resident of University Apartments South (UAS) was stopped by an employee and questioned about her presence there. The student resident had violated no rules and was, in fact, doing what every resident of UAS should be able to do without suspicion – parking her car and entering her home. Because of this, the student was justifiably angry. I too am upset. No member of our community should ever be made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable, especially where they live.
Across the nation, from barbecues to shopping malls, we have seen incidents of Black people scrutinized, questioned and treated as if they have no right to be in their own space or share the public space to which we all are equally entitled. This is unacceptable. Anti-Black bias, like all identity-based biases, is dehumanizing, hurtful and has no place at UCLA.
It is the university’s responsibility to make sure that every staff member, student and faculty member understands that no one in our community should have to justify their presence or be made to feel unwelcome because of the color of their skin or their ethnic background. This incident has demonstrated that the university must do a better job of reinforcing that message and providing training designed to deter racial profiling and unfair treatment. We can and must do better.
Not only will we expand the anti-bias training provided to all of our employees who interact with residents of university housing, including the employee in question, we will also modify staffing structures and improve student services that will better allow us to create a community in our residential facilities where all are seen, valued and respected.
Our anti-discrimination policies and practices must always be evaluated with an eye toward improvement. We also remain committed to providing support and resources to anyone who may experience an act of discrimination. If you encounter such acts, please report the incidents to the UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Sadly, institutions, like individuals, cannot prevent every instance of insensitivity. But, like individuals, when institutions make mistakes, when we fail those whom we care about, we need to face up to our responsibility and do better.
Gene D. Block
Note: Some blog readers may recall the UCLA/Judge Cunningham affair. If not:https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2014/07/press-release-on-judge-cunningham-case.html