On Monday, the CityBeat news department sat around a table and argued about what to say in response to the series of events that transpired since the infamous Compton Cookout party invite at UCSD. Because our opinions weren't in lockstep, we could have washed our hands of the sordid affair—but then how would we get the name “Jiggaboo Jones” in print? And isn't that what really matters?
Yes, that's a rather flip lead-in to a critically important topic—race relations in America—but it seems appropriate in light of the Circus of the Absurd surrounding these events. An L.A.-area state legislator investigating a DIY closed-circuit TV broadcast on a San Diego campus? Good god, everyone, just sit down and take a deep breath.
Let's recap: Some numbskull UCSD frat boys threw an off-campus party themed on ridiculing L.A. gangsta-rap culture. Thanks to the power and reach of Facebook—where an image of our friend Jiggaboo Jones, who's apparently some kind of black-on-black satirical Internet personality, was used to illustrate the theme—word spread around the campus, followed by understandable anger. University administrators, besieged with calls, including from the media, necessarily issued a statement condemning the party-throwers. State legislators, unnecessarily, threw in their two cents, and UCSD was forced to send an official to Sacramento to meet with them. The fraternities issued a statement saying the guys involved would be disciplined for their stupidity.
Frankly, that's where this mess should have died down. But Kris Gregorian, the jerk behind the obscene and unfunny Koala student “humor” publication and related closed-circuit TV show, likely felt left out of the controversy and decided to stoke the flames by airing on student-run TV what reportedly was a highly offensive defense of the party. Gregorian took the reins of The Koala from another jerk, Steve York, who enjoyed making fun of Asians, Muslims, Jews and women in grotesquely offensive, and often sexual, ways.
York and Gregorian are bottom feeders who thrive on attention and use the First Amendment as a shield to protect their sick senses of humor from those who understandably would like to censor them. Folks inside and outside of the campus community played right into Gregorian's hand when they reacted to his grab for the spotlight.
The Black Student Union has handed the administration a list of demands—most reasonable, some nutty. State Assemblyman Isadore Hall, who represents Compton, has stuck his nose into this dung pile, hoping to get fraternity charters revoked and vowing to find a tape of the Koala broadcast. And now the students of UCSD have quite a pickle from which to extract themselves.
Associated Students President Utsav Gupta has unilaterally frozen all student-fee funding of campus media until the student government can figure out how to regulate them without infringing on free speech. That's a big fat bummer because dozens of media outlets in additon to The Koala use money from student fees. Freezing the money was an overreaction, but we at least understand Gupta's desire to clear the slate.
It will be fascinating to watch the students work this out. Student leaders are forced now to devise guidelines for campus media that walk the tightrope between allowing free expression of ideas and discouraging the use of student fees to deliberately degrade and humiliate valued segments of the campus community. The specifics of the language will be key. We look forward to watching that debate unfold as the entire student body is asked to approve whatever rules come forward.
We have no doubt that if there were more black students, the demographics of the student body would be able to neutralize, naturally, the Kris Gregorians and Steve Yorks of the world.
It's easy to blame the university for failing to attract more black students—and we hope these incidents eventually result in improvements to those efforts. However, as usual, we're more inclined to dig deeper and point to society's failure to overcome the institutional racism that entrapped much of the black community in a cycle of poverty and family dysfunction that produces low educational performance. What do you think? Write to email@example.com.