While it's not unusual for such incidents to prompt calls for increased racial awareness on behalf of the school or the creation of new “safe spaces,” a student group at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is demanding much more than that.
In mid-May, UCLA's Afrikan Student Union (ASU) released an eight-point ultimatum, demanding not only “a physical location on campus to house the Afrikan Student Union Projects,” but an endowment from the university of $40 million.
As UCLA's Daily Bruin newspaper notes:
Fourth-year philosophy and African American Studies student and Afrikan Student Union Chair Alicia Frison said the group worked on the demands throughout the year and decided to release the list now in response to recent incidents affecting African-American students.
In defense of her group's significant endowment request, Frison argues that “$40 million is just a drop in the bucket for the university,” pointing to schools like University of California, Berkeley, which has recently allocated tens of millions of dollars to similar diversity goals.
The ASU also cited a number of other racially-insensitive incidents around campus, including the discovery of “racist stickers” and an image that emerged in late April of UCLA student president Danny Siegel throwing up a gang sign:
Daily Bruin also notes that “Frison said that many of the demands build on the requests the ASU made in 2015 after the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority held a 'Kanye Western' theme party that many students said was racially insensitive.”
At that party, which took place back in late 2015, attendees reportedly showed up wearing “baggy clothes” and outfits made famous by reality star Kim Kardashian, the wife of rapper Kanye West, The Los Angeles Times reported.
It sparked particular uproar after accusations arose that some attendees showed up in 'blackface,' something that the fraternity that hosted it flatly denied:
As the fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, said in a statement shortly after the accusations arose:
It is important that we put this rumor to rest.
Some of our guests attended the event dressed as miners in reference to the Kanye West song ‘Gold Digger,’ but their attire had nothing to do with race. This does not excuse our lack of judgment in not recognizing the inappropriateness of the party theme and that other costumes were offensive.
Following those accusations, hundreds of students reportedly marched across campus in protest, demanding action from UCLA and holding signs that read, “Our culture is not a costume.”
In response to the ASU's most recent ultimatum, UCLA officials have noted that the university has adopted a number of anti-discrimination policies in recent years, adding “that minority student enrollment at UCLA has increased by 13 percent since 2012,” according to the Daily Bruin.