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UC San Diego revises handling of racial harassment

By Elliot Spagat
Associated Press / April 13, 2012
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SAN DIEGO—The University of California, San Diego agreed to overhaul practices for handling complaints of racial harassment following a federal investigation of campus incidents that targeted black students two years ago, officials said Friday.

The school agreed to operate an Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, require training for students and staff, and revise policies and procedures to ensure consistency with federal law, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education said.

The federal government demanded changes after nooses and a Ku Klux Klan-style hood were found on campus in 2010, and students at an off-campus party dressed in costumes that mocked Black History Month.

The federal agencies extensively investigated the 2010 incidents and fielded additional complaints of racial discrimination and harassment. Xochitl Hinojosa, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to elaborate on the additional complaints.

The university had anti-harassment policies in place but lacked procedures to quickly resolve complaints, Hinojosa said.

Federal officials praised the university for voluntarily accepting a series of measures to improve the campus climate.

"UCSD, like all colleges and universities, has an obligation to make clear that racial discrimination and harassment on campus will not be tolerated, and this agreement is a significant step in the right direction," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division.

UC San Diego said it has already taken several steps, including creation of the office to handle complaints about discrimination and harassment.

Starting last fall, the school required all undergraduates demonstrate knowledge of diversity, equity and inclusion. The school has also provided $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.

"We will move forward with the terms outlined in the resolution agreement and will continue to work together to achieve our shared goal of an open, welcoming and supportive campus for people from all backgrounds," the school said in a statement.

The school has expanded outreach efforts, which have included hosting 20 students from Compton High School near Los Angeles for a three-week summer program at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

The 2010 firestorm began with an off-campus, student-organized "Compton Cookout" party that mocked Black History Month with ghetto stereotypes.

Black students comprise about 2 percent of UC San Diego's 23,000 undergraduates.

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.

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