City News Service
UC San Diego officials agreed to open an office to investigate reported race-based misconduct and take other anti-discrimination steps as part of a settlement with federal authorities probing allegations that black students had been harassed, the U.S. Justice Department announced today.
The deal involving the university, Justice Department and Department of Education ends a federal investigation into a series of complaints that started with an off-campus party called the "Compton Cookout." That February 2010 event led to several months of tension on campus, including the discovery of a noose in UCSD's main library and a white hood found on a statue.
Blacks, who make up a small fraction of the student body, said they felt uncomfortable on campus.
According to the announcement, UCSD entered into the resolution voluntarily. After the incidents occurred, school officials took several steps on their own in an attempt to reduce racial problems.
Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division, said students have a right to receive an education without being subjected to racial harassment.
"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," Perez said. "We commend the university for working with us to address this matter, and we recognize the importance of this agreement in the context of larger efforts by the UC system to create supportive and inclusive learning environments for students."
The school agreed to review policies to make sure they conform to federal civil rights codes, open an office to receive, investigate and resolve harassment claims, and provide mandatory training to employees and students on discrimination and harassment.
Much of the deal with the government involves monitoring, record-keeping and reporting of racial incidents.
A statement from the university expressed gratitude that authorities recognized their efforts to improve the campus climate.
"We believe the voluntary agreement is further illustration of our commitment to systemic change through enhanced training, outreach programs and ongoing communication," the UCSD statement said. "Our campus has already enacted a series of actions, programs and initiatives to improve campus climate and welcome a diverse community."
The statement said the school would "move forward" with the terms of the agreement.
"We are resolute in our determination to ensure a safe and just environment in which everyone may live, work, learn and flourish," it said.