Thursday, March 5, 2015

UCSC hate crime rallies students seeking better support

A University of California, Santa Cruz student was attacked on February 7, 2015 in an alleged hate crime based on sexual orientation.

According to a student petition calling for action, "the victim had their wrist broken in three places, and shattered in one place, broken knuckles, a fractured jaw, a dislocated hip, and suffered a concussion."

UCSC Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway shared a campus-wide email on February 12 that named the attack as a possible hate crime but did not specify sexual orientation as the motivation:
The gravity of this incident is disturbing, and the allegation of a hate crime is particularly troubling. As a campus, we welcome students, staff, faculty, and guests of all races, religions, ethnic groups, nationalities, traditions, backgrounds, orientations, physical abilities, and cultures. Targeting a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a particular group is unacceptable—and illegal. I want to assure the campus community that we are investigating this hate-crime allegation with the seriousness it deserves. 
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported students' belief that the attack was hate-motivated based on sexual orientation:
“It was very clear that it was a hate crime because people who were there heard the attackers screaming slurs and saying things along the lines of, ‘You better not be gay. That’s not OK,’” Epstein said.
Galloway's email and follow-up staff communications emphasized campus resources available to students impacted by the alleged hate crime. Campus community members were also urged to report hate/bias crimes and incidents to campus police or online at

The student online petition includes four demands:

  1. multi-stall, all-gender restrooms within walking distance of all classrooms
  2. free self-defense workshops and classes available to all students
  3. mandatory University-wide workshops regarding "queer, trans, and gender non-conforming life, existence, terminology, and issues"
  4. hiring of multiple staff professionals, including a trans-specialist, to provide training, etc.

Of the 9 undergraduate UC  campuses, only UC Merced has less professional staffing to provide LGBTQ-focused campus services on campus. The Lionel CantĂș Queer Center is staffed by one full-time director, who is currently on medical leave.

On Facebook and other social media, UCSC students are speaking out about the hate crime, its impact, and the University response, especially in the context of other UCSC student protests against tuition increases. UCSC undergraduate student Avery's Facebook post has garnered peer support for expressing the emotional toll of the hate crime on students:
How f---ing long is it going to take for the violent hate crime at Kresge to gain a fraction of the public notice the six students protesting yesterday did? Already the petition to rally expulsion of these students has gained more signatures IN ONE DAY.
I hold so much pain and trauma on my back today, for myself and for the ones I love who are being told they don't matter. Through these consequences, we are told we don't matter. Our amount of money matters. Our bodies do not. Our obedience to the UC matters. Our pain and suffering does not. People of color do not matter. Queer people do not matter. Trans people do not matter. Those who suffer systemic, institutional physical/financial/gender/sexual violence do not matter.
I am TIRED of trying to go on and function as a student, as a student leader, as a young adult trying to learn how to be responsible and successful in this world and PRETEND as if all of this bullsh-- weren't happening all around me! I am so tired and so heavy. I almost want someone to tell me what to do with this body that has been made to feel so useless, so insignificant. 
But I know I can't. Anger and pain is the only feeling I embody today. I feel anger out of love. Pain out of love. Love for myself and the people I love, because we deserve more out of this f---ing world than we are getting. I feel angry out of compassion because I want more for us than this violence! So I'm going to hold on to this anger. I don't know where it's going or what to do with it yet but my body will not forget.


Prevent Hate Crimes at Santa Cruz - blog for updates Petition

City On A Hill Press

Santa Cruz Sentinel

KION News Channel

ABC Channel 7 News