Editor’s Note: Names in this story have been changed or redacted for student privacy.
Stickers promoting a known white supremacist group were sighted in Middle Earth and Mesa Court housing complexes on Jan. 17.
The incident carried deeply racist implications, taking place the same day as the observed holiday, Martin Luther King. Jr. Day, which honors the influential civil rights leader.
An email was sent out to all students residing in both housing communities from Senior Director of Undergraduate Housing Lou Gill on Jan. 18 in response to the incident.
“Community members reported the incidents and Student Housing staff took action immediately to document and report the incident to authorities and remove and cover up the stickers. This incident caused concern and alarm for the individuals, community members, and staff. Student Housing is home to a diverse group of students and staff and defacing campus property is incongruent with our values,” Gill said in the email.
This does not seem to be an isolated event based on Reddit posts made under the r/UCI subreddit on Jan. 11, 2021, and one year prior to that on Jan. 13. 2020. Both posts contain pictures of the same white supremacist group’s sticker found on or near campus.
Some students criticized the school’s decision to send an email rather than addressing the issue more seriously and taking further action to prevent the incident from happening again.
“Honestly, I never thought something like this would happen at UCI, and I recently got told it happened last year as well. So UCI sending out an email about it felt very routine and uncaring. Also, it’s very unnerving that UCI feels the need to always mention not limiting free speech when speaking up against racism,” a first year pharmaceutical sciences student who prefers to be identified as “Ky” said.
Despite UCI’s “commitment to excellence through diversity,” as stated under their diversity resources, and the efforts of UCI’s Office of Inclusive Excellence, students expressed there is still room for improvement — particularly when it comes to supporting UCI’s Black community.
“As an African American who goes to UCI, they don’t seem to make a lot of effort to empower or help the Black community even though we pay equal tuition to go. Things such as the Black Scholars House that’s only in [Arroyo Vista] limits a lot of other Black identities on campus,” Ky said.
An anonymous Resident Housing Association staffer also shared their frustration towards the repeated acts of racism.
“I’m a second year right now. I moved into UCI as a freshman during the pandemic in Rivendell. Literally the third or fourth night there we had an incident of racism. Same thing by the way, stickers everywhere and we were told nothing about it. I only knew about it because I hung out with my RA [Resident Advisor] and I just happened to hear her radio go off. It’s the fact that it’s a consistent repetitive pattern that [makes] it baffling at this point. I don’t understand why we don’t have cameras or more alertness when it’s been happening around the same period and the same time,” the staffer said.
They recounted how the professional staff in housing has failed to include student staffers more in the matter.
“I think it’s very belittling, now that we work for advocacy, that we find out not through our boss, but through this email as well. So are we not advocates then? You hired us to protect and advocate for the Middle Earth residents, and Mesa Court and Arroyo Vista, but when it comes to these embarrassing acts of racism, you guys are very silent and don’t even acknowledge us. We still haven’t talked about it by the way. My boss hasn’t even messaged me about it yet,” they said.
In response to this sentiment, Gill described further measures student housing takes in addition to informing residents through email announcements.
“When we are made aware of any unapproved signs, stickers, postings or solicitors, we take appropriate action to remove them. When incidents like this occur that can have an adverse impact on our community, we involve UCI PD, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, the Office of Inclusive Excellence and other campus partners to assist. When discovered, the postings/signs/flyers are removed or covered as quickly as possible. Where indicated and appropriate, we provide educational and support opportunities for our communities to further UCI’s mission to promote inclusiveness, equity and diversity,” Gill said in an interview with the New University.
As mentioned in the Undergraduate Housing Residence Life Team’s email, any information regarding the incident, or future incidents, can be reported to a Resident Assistant on duty at (949) 824-5976 for Middle Earth and (949) 872-8005 for Mesa Court.
Yuika Yoshida is a Campus News Staff Writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.