By Rosie Spinks
Campus News Reporter
Last week, following several incidents of racially charged vandalism on campus, the vice chancellor of student affairs sent out a campus-wide e-mail condemning the graffiti found at Oakes and Porter colleges.
While the e-mail neither described the graffiti nor specified the group that was targeted, J.M. Brown of the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported last week that the anti-Semitic graffiti most recently found in a men’s stall at Porter College resembled the image found on April 30 outside an Oakes classroom. Brown reported that the image at Oakes, which has since been painted over, depicted the Star of David in between the World Trade Center towers.
Some Jewish community leaders have criticized Chancellor George Blumenthal for not releasing a statement denouncing the vandalism. However, in a separate statement released by Ashish Sahni, the assistant chancellor chief of staff, the administration contends that an official response from the chancellor is unnecessary.
“Chancellor Blumenthal speaks regularly, on our campus and off, about his deep commitment to diversity and tolerance in all its forms,” according to the statement. “If statements effectively curbed offensive, insensitive graffiti, we would gladly issue them daily.”
While most can agree that the message behind the graffiti is deplorable, students like Ryan Deleon, a second-year Oakes student, wonder if bathroom-wall graffiti should be taken so seriously, considering the copious amounts of offensive material that can be found in stalls all over campus.
“I think bathroom writing is just a way for people to express their immature sides,” Deleon said. “I don’t think it’s anything to be looked at too seriously, but I can understand why people would be upset about it.”
What some students find most surprising about the issue is the lack of student awareness about it, which may have been caused by the administration’s apparent decision to not release specific information in the campus-wide e-mail.
“It’s a big deal that a lot people don’t know about this,” said first-year Oakes student Leesa Durst. “It seems like [the administration] could be trying to hush up this animosity.”
Deleon agrees that the administration’s decision to keep the information under wraps does more harm than good.
“By keeping it quiet, they are suppressing a lot of anger that could possibly rise later,” he said.
The statement released by Sahni describes the action the university has taken to combat the issue. Communication with students, Santa Cruz Hillel and the University Interfaith Council are priorities as well as promoting a “campus dialogue on diversity and tolerance,” called for by Blumenthal.
Second-year Oakes student Travis Tam said the offensive graffiti does not take away from the opening and welcoming nature of Oakes College.
“It’s just some kids being stupid,” Tam said. “The whole point of this place is diversity and someone can’t just come here and hate on that.”