INTOLERANCE ON AMERICAN COLLEGE CAMPUSES

This morning, many Americans were shocked to learn of new evidence of racism on college campuses when a video that shows members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity singing a racist song on a bus went viral.  In response to this video, President David Boren, the former governor of Oklahoma, acted quickly to eject OU members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon from campus.  Yet, this action does not eliminate the problem since this very frat was the source of an attack on a Jewish fraternity just last year.  As a University of Oklahoma student told Newsweek today, “this certainly isn’t the first [racist incident], and it certainly isn’t the last.”  This frat is merely the most visible example of a problem that is pervading our college campuses.

Some readers may look at the location of this incident and say that it is really just a problem there, but not here.  These readers may tell themselves that I am not racist and I’m sure my local college or alma mater is not racist.  These people may say to themselves that this is a problem limited to the South, the old Confederacy or places people may think are bastions of racism.

Yet just this past week, the University of California at Los Angeles was rocked by an anti-Semitic crisis.  This past month, an eminently qualified student was applying for a position on the University’s Judicial Council, which enforces school rules and imposes punishments like expulsions or suspensions, when she was asked an unbelievable question in 2015.  Rachel Beyda was asked, “given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?”

Los Angeles is not known as a historically anti-Semitic area.  In fact, it has the second highest proportion of Jewish-Americans in the entire country.  Yet, UCLA has become the latest example of what is a growing problem with anti-Semitism on American campuses. A study conducted last year discovered that 54% of Jewish students experienced anti-Semitism on their college campus in the 2013-2014 academic year.

And these experiences are not limited to Jewish students, but instead there has been an increase antagonism of other minority groups either intentionally or by unintentionally perpetuating a racist stereotype through micro-aggressions.  Another recent example from UCLA happened in the Spring of 2012, when a female UCLA student went on YouTube and publicly insulted Asian students, including a racist imitation of these students speaking.

We are failing our students.  We cannot assume that because we are in a modern age, racism does not still exist in our institutions.  The best way to fight ignorance is to learn ourselves, so let us not leave it to the new generation or just say that we are post-racial.  But instead we must commit to doing something to improve our own knowledge of other communities in our country.