‘If You’re Going to Come to UCLA Then Use American Manners’
March 15, 2011 - 2:27 pm
Somebody didn’t get the president’s new civility memo:
Gee, let’s start a video “rant” like this:
So we know that I’m not the most politically correct person so don’t take this offensively. I don’t mean it toward any of my friends I mean it toward random people that I don’t even know in the library. So, you guys are not the problem.
The problem is these hordes of Asian people that UCLA accepts into our school every single year, which is fine. But if you’re going to come to UCLA then use American manners.
Hmmm — who would take offense at that, particularly in the tinderbox atmosphere of campus politics, where every offense is guaranteed to be amped up to 11.
But to borrow a line from an old college favorite, what is to be done? FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, claims that the video is “Not Discriminatory Harassment:”
For the last couple of days, controversy has been buzzing about a YouTube video (now with more than 1.3 million views) from a college student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who chose to take to the Internet to complain about the behavior of Asian students in the UCLA library and elsewhere. The student, who has been identified as Alexandra Wallace, claims that the “hordes” of Asian students at UCLA (UCLA’s undergraduate population is about 37 percent Asian and Pacific Islander) cause various annoyances like loudly talking on their cell phones in the library and having their extended families come over and do their chores for them.If you watch the video, it is easy to see why Asian students in particular, and others as well, might find it offensive—although in my opinion it is really pretty tame, as far as Internet rants go. The uproar it has caused at UCLA, however, is remarkable, and unfortunately displays the common impulse of college students and administrators to turn to official power to silence unpopular or controversial expression rather than relying on informal social sanction. It also displays the unfortunate tendency of many college students to ask for official punishment for those who air views they don’t like, or worse, to make threats—even death threats—against such people.
Let’s first deal with the administrative response.
The old saying is that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Just about every university’s “hammer” of choice when it comes to unpopular expression is the set of rules prohibiting harassment on campus. Indeed, Robert Naples, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor and dean of students, wasted little time in telling the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper, that “We’ll be taking a look at the language that she uses in the video to see if it violates any codes under the student code, perhaps regarding harassment.”
Read the whole thing. If you were running UCLA, how would you proceed next?