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News :: Organizing
Graduate students of color and their allies to protest racism at UMass Amherst
05 Oct 2004
"Rally Against Racism"
Wednesday, Oct. 6, 12 noon
Student Union, UMass Amherst
Please forward to all media, lists and post!

October 5, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Arturo Elizarov, (323) 630-2933 (Cell)

Graduate students of color and their allies to protest racism at UMass Amherst

Where and when:

"Rally Against Racism"
Wednesday, Oct. 6, 12 noon
Student Union, UMass Amherst

UMASS AMHERST -- Recently, a dangerous situation has been uncovered that involves nine students who held offices within the Student Government Association of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. These white students decided to propagate racist sentiment through circulating graphical depictions of themselves while getting drunk at a party and by mocking, while drinking illegally in a campus office, Black and other students of color by pretending that one of the nine students was a Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard. In the hands of this depicted figure was a burning cross and out of his mouth came the mocking ballooned words: "I love ALANA." ALANA is an acronym for African, Latino/a, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American students at UMass Amherst.

"We find this appalling incident to be fundamentally disturbing, and we claim that it speaks to a larger racist cultural climate existing on the campus of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst," said Arturo Elizarov, Executive Committee member of the independent Graduate Students of Color caucus and a Labor Studies graduate student at UMass Amherst.

The irony is that these students rationalize their actions by saying they were just joking. At best they say this with no apparent awareness or the history of racial joking in this country; and at worst, they say this with full knowledge that racial joking is far more fun for whites than it is for people of color. Moreover to have used a Klan image and to pose in front of this image in postures indicative of black gang signs is a level of mockery that is terribly offensive and harmful to the self-esteem of any students on campus whose background includes those cultural performance.


For several years, we have witnessed a continuous foundational shift within the University’s administrational policies that explicitly impact ALANA students. For our ALANA community, such policies have resulted in deprived access, opportunity, and funding on this campus with the constant voices of the ALANA community going unheard. What minimal response there has been has served a university agenda often operating in conflict with our own. Consequently, the level of racism being bred on this campus has reached epidemic proportions that in the past few years have been made manifest on campus in racial assaults, slanderous remarks, and celebrated victories of institutional racism. As such, we, ALANA graduate students, stand in solidarity in our demand for equality on this campus. No longer will we accept this institution to silence our voices or subvert our message.



We demand unilateral social justice in all aspects of university life beginning with the swift expulsion of all students involved in the racist celebration. If Massachusetts law is inadequate to the task of defining their actions as a hate crime, then other legal remedies must be pursued such as judicially charging these students with racial harassment according to our Student Code of Conduct or failing that we will be forced to organize a class action suit given that the intimating action of these students more than any others has stricken ALANA community members with fear of racial reprisal for our efforts to organize on this campus as other students do. We consider that the act of publishing their pictures on their website was intended to circulate their message of hate to other white students to the detriment of our safety on campus.

Prosecuting and expelling these students will demonstrate that the university recognizes the unjust atmosphere it has spawned among those few but often powerful white students on campus who seem to feel free to perform racist acts toward the ALANA community. It also will signal that the university is now committed to rectifying the larger cultural situation of institutional and social racism on this campus.

We, tomorrow’s educators and leaders, and today’s activists, stand united in our fervent call for campus equality and insist that the university recognize us, ALANA graduate students, as more than a numerical statistic, but as a legitimate constituency that deserves to have our voices heard and our demands met.

-- END --

Protest information:

"Rally Against Racism"
Wednesday, October 6, 12 noon
Student Union Steps, UMass Amherst

-- END --

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Re: Graduate students of color and their allies to protest racism at UMass Amherst
06 Oct 2004
"If Massachusetts law is inadequate to the task of defining their actions as a hate crime, then other legal remedies must be pursued such as judicially charging these students with racial harassment according to our Student Code of Conduct or failing that we will be forced to organize a class action suit given that the intimating action of these students more than any others has stricken ALANA community members with fear of racial reprisal for our efforts to organize on this campus as other students do."

What you mean to say is that if Constitutional Law fails to enhance the power of your organization, then you will try to sue the kids under University Law! Hahahahahaa! Very funny. Imagine: Umas School Handbook as the supreme law of the land. Again, Hahahaha!

There was also no hate crime. Why not? Because there was no victim. An advocacy organization cannot be a victim of a drawing, that drawing not even submitted to the organization.

If any of you were law students, you would know that "hate crime" is merely an enhancement of motive-punishment when an actual crime already existed.

Are 9 drunken white kids preventing you from organizing? apparently not, since your organization has the power to whine ant such a high frequency that it gets media attention and can actively make 9 students miserable.

Judicially charge them with racial harassment? Against whom? There is no victim. DO you imply that the judicial route is somehow weaker and more susceptible to your organizations lobbying? If so then shame on you.

WHo was intimidated by the drawing on the markerboard? Certainly not you guys. You guys are attempting to intimidate the 9 students.

Who instilled fear of reprisal for organizing? We have here no fearful victims, and therefore no instillers of fear. I think these kids made fun of your organization because it is obnoxious.