- Posted February 24, 2010 by
La Jolla, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
UCSD Students Rally Against Racism, Campus "Teach-In" BUT Let's Not Forget Free Speech for ALL
Today I arrived on the campus of UC San Diego to the chants and protests of thousands of students and administrators who had gathered to protest the recent string of racist activities that have plagued our campus.
The events over the past week include the "Compton Cookout", a President's day party organized by a few members of a campus fraternity (though not campus, nor fraternity sponsored) mocking black history month by emphasizing a variety of African-American stereotypes. The second event occurred when the Koala, a student-run, satirical newspaper that also utilizes campus-wide TV, aired an episode defending the party and calling African Americans a derogatory name. Google "UCSD Compton Cookout" for more info.
As a way to bring people together, UCSD administrators organized a campus wide "teach-in" today in an attempt to bring people together. However, in the middle of the "teach-in" many students, mostly African-Americans, stood up and walked out in protest. This is where I arrived.
While I believe the party and especially the subsequent on-campus TV show were racist, disgusting, and hurtful to many people, being a student of law and political science I cannot help to think of the Bill of Right's First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protecting free speech.
While all these students spoke out and exercised their freedom of speech against racism and the administration's reaction, they MUST RESPECT the right of others to engage in free speech. This includes speech that is hurtful, offensive, and derogatory. We may not like those that are racist, or those who say evil things, but to deny and oppress those that try to do so undermines the very values we all hold so high in America.
Students, administrators, and faculty ALL seem to forget this in the midst of this situation. While I believe students involved with the Koala episode should be punished since it was campus and organization involved, those who organized the party (the start of all of this) did so off campus, unaffiliated with the school, and sponsored by no campus organizations. They should NOT be punished. Parties are held ALL the time mocking different groups and cultures, and yes, neither I nor most people approve of such, but it is not up to us to decide what is allowed and what isn't. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights does that for us, and in this case, the First Amendment protects against hateful and offensive speech.