“I threw Denise off the 43rd floor,” read the wooden University of California Santa Cruz sign at the base of campus on May 28; but only for a short period of time.
On a day that millions around the country celebrated and honored the memory of those lost in military service, the memory of our former chancellor, as well as the meaning of this institution, was ridiculed.
This disgusting assault on the entrance to this university, a symbol of education and awareness, does not reflect any of the qualities for which this school and the larger student body strive. Unfortunately, the cowardly act of vandalism implicates not only the perpetrator, but every student who spoke against the policies of Denise Denton.
Former Chancellor Denton committed suicide on June 24, 2006, when she allegedly jumped out of the 43rd story of a San Francisco apartment building.
During her short time in office, Denton was constantly criticized for her professional actions. But, as exemplified by attacks on personal property, students sometimes confused the line between civil criticism and personal assault.
This vengeful act, although temporary, burned deep into what we at UC Santa Cruz hold at our core — knowledge, respect, and consciousness of actions.
UCSC continues to strive toward an enlightened and aware population through student-run organizations and media publications, all working as a checks and balances system with the seemingly autonomous power of the University of California.
But this action was very different. It reflects poorly on the students spending their time not only taking the required 15 units a quarter, but also working to make our university a better, more informed place.
We have to consider our image as a campus as we hold regular rallies, protests, marches, and meetings to educate and bring awareness to one another, and are now regretfully related to those misguided individuals taking such low blows at a woman who ended her life in depression.
Yes, Denton took a lot of flak for her sometimes poor decision-making, and those actions didn’t make the UCSC students too happy, but how happy must she have been to take her own life? What motivations and considerations do we have, as human beings, to make such snide and painful comments about this woman?
Almost a year after her suicide, we are still searching for someone to fill the Chancellor void. But who would want to work for this school and strive to make it better, when this is the kind of memorial his or her predecessor got? How do acts like these affect the application process?
Denton was a human being in a lot of pain, and although it does not justify or excuse her actions as chancellor, it does afford her a certain level of respect and compassion.
Now, without a suspect in mind, we must look inward, with the hope that a lesson will be learned from this vicious act — we must not insult the person, we must instead work to improve the actions of those following her footsteps.