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UC Davis Asian students protest confrontations

The Associated Press
Friday February 09, 2001

DAVIS — About 300 Asian-American students and their supporters peacefully marched at the University of California, Davis, Thursday, protesting recent confrontations with white students. 

Administrators urged students to follow the university’s code of tolerance and nondiscrimination. More than 35 percent of the university students are of Asian or Pacific Islander descent. 

Julienne Kwong, a 20-year-old sociology major and a member of the university’s Council for Asian Pacific American Affairs, said the administration’s action was “not enough, not when victims don’t feel they have anybody to turn to when they feel threatened.” 

Problems began in October, according to the university, when members of a California State University, Sacramento, Asian sorority said they were intimidated by members of a white UC Davis fraternity as the two groups attempted to arrange rocks into messages at a levee, a traditional student activity. 

The same month, Korean-American and white youths, including some UC Davis students, had a confrontation in an apartment parking lot in Davis. Two white youths were arrested on hate-crime charges after a large group of whites then assaulted the Korean-Americans in their apartment. 

In December, police broke up a brawl at the levee between at least 70 members of a white fraternity and three Asian fraternities, all attempting to arrange rocks into messages. 

A series of other incidents have been less well documented, adding to students’ and administrators’ frustration, said university spokeswoman Lisa Lapin. 

“Everybody has been very concerned and taking this seriously,” Lapin said. “This really isn’t really an adversarial thing with the administration. This is really raising awareness.” 

Administrators pulled members of competing fraternities into a mediation meeting last month, and last week distributed an open letter decrying the incidents and urging hate crime victims to come forward. Carol Wall, the university’s vice chancellor for student affairs, met with Asian student leaders Thursday evening to hear their demands. 

The demands included mandatory diversity training for students and faculty; a coordinator to work with hate-crimes victims; more Asian language and culture classes and funding; and creation of an Asian-American student center.