The Department of Justice, UCSD, and the Truth   Leave a comment

As per the United States Department of Justice

The Departments of Justice and Education reached a settlement agreement with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), to resolve an investigation into complaints of racial harassment against African-American students on campus.

So the federal government launched an investigation based on complaints of “racial harassment” and the result was a voluntary agreement to make some policy changes at UCSD. This blog’s archives hold extensive documentation of those complaints, which the Department of Justice summarizes thusly:

The complaints alleged multiple incidents of racial harassment on campus, including public displays of nooses and a Ku Klux Klan-style hood, and the hosting of an off-campus party where students were invited to dress as stereotypes of African-Americans. [Emphasis mine]

And the DOJ seems to misunderstand a few things. “Public displays of nooses” not only requires that multiple nooses were publicly displayed, but also probably should have some connection to racial threats in order to be significant. There was really only one “noose” displayed so publicly in the corner on the 7th story of a library that it took 3 days to discover, and it turned out to be an absent-minded blunder by a female minority student, devoid of any racial context. A student who confessed and explained her oblivious mistake in order to diffuse racial tensions, and was suspended for her brave honesty when she easily could have walked away. The DOJ doesn’t seem aware of this, citing a racial complaint not of a threat, but to an overreaction to a  misunderstanding. UCSD and the DOJ refuse to accept her apology, choosing to portray her as a racial harasser instead. And then the “noose” thing somehow gets made plural. Seems uninterested in the truth and generally irresponsible.

Not as irresponsible as twice citing “on campus” incidents and then listing “an off-campus party” as one of those on campus incidents. Come on. In-sentence contradictions in an official Department of Justice document make the agency seem unserious. Debunking the so-called and deceivingly misrepresented  “nooses” as well the the on-campus-ness of an off-campus party, we’re left with the KKK hood, which did actually happen, was on campus, and is in inexcusably bad taste, even if just a prank. If UCSD really didn’t make it clear that such behavior is unacceptable, then maybe the DOJ has business conducting a federal investigation of an entire university for one individual (never confirmed to even be a student)’s stupid racism. Since the DOJ’s statement seems to understand UCSD’s “campus climate” so clumsily, it would only be responsible to not base federally-enforced provisions on its own misunderstanding.

So of course:

The university has agreed to revise its campus policies and procedures related to racial harassment to ensure they are consistent with federal civil rights laws; maintain an Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination to receive, investigate, and resolve complaints of harassment and discrimination; and provide mandatory trainings for staff and students on the university’s anti-discrimination policies and procedures.  [Emphasis mine]

An “Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination” doesn’t sound cheap, and it’s in addition to UCSD “provid[ing] $330,000 a year for a program aimed at recruiting and retaining underrepresented groups and increased staffing for African-American and Chicano Latino arts and humanities minors.” Actual complaints about discrimination and harassment need to be addressed seriously, but there’s no indication that the outrage being remedied was in response to actual instances of on-campus discrimination or harassment. It’s all highly manufactured, and then the expensive federally-monitored remedy is instituted.

Agreeing to seriously address racial discrimination and harassment at the behest of the federal government is an implicit admission — on behalf of over 20,000 students — of racial guilt. You don’t agree to fix a problem you don’t have. In this case, the DOJ cites a lot of specious and misinterpreted evidence in branding UCSD with a racial harassment problem, even if over 99% of the individual students at UCSD haven’t done anything wrong. This is all based on the complaints of organizations who claim to feel harassed and discriminated against without being able to produce a single case of physical, academic, or occupational harm due to racial harassment or discrimination. Just their word that their arbitrary interpretation of certain things made them feel offended. That’s not a good reason for establishing an Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination and it’s not a good reason for the federal investigation that led to its establishment.

It’s a terrible reason for “mandatory trainings for staff and students on the university’s anti-discrimination policies and procedures.” These “trainings” couldn’t possibly be propaganda and indoctrination classes designed to chill free speech, but even though that’s indisputable, it’s still a bit totalitarian to force the entire campus to undergo training to address the complaints of a small group of students. What is the punishment for refusing to undergo the mandatory brainwashing training?

We may just see because “The agreement requires UC San Diego to report to the Justice and Education departments in two months on how the new policies and procedures are being put in effect.” If in the next two months, no racial complaints are filed, the school might have trouble demonstrating its improved response to stuff like that, so maybe it comes down to showing that fancy new office is there. Apparently, “Starting last fall, the school required all undergraduates demonstrate knowledge of diversity, equity and inclusion,” so that requirement is being addressed for students, though staff was also included in the DOJ agreement.

The ethics of mandating everybody undergo the same viewpoint training is probably not worth discussing to the DOJ, which seems more focused on results, whether or not they understood the facts of the alleged problem in the first place. Bringing us to the question: How do you measure the efficacy of a solution to a problem that wasn’t really there in the first place?

You probably don’t measure it in freedom and money that could have been spent on adding classes students actually want or reopening libraries.


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