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UC San Diego officials meet with students angry about off-campus 'Compton Cookout'

February 19, 2010 |  8:49 pm

UC San Diego administrators met Friday with more than 100 students who gathered to protest a Feb. 15 ghetto-themed “Compton Cookout” and to ask for improved conditions for black students on the campus.

The students also were angered by a Thursday segment on a student-run television station that used racial epithets to defend the off-campus party, officials said.

Penny Rue, vice chancellor for student affairs, called the clip “very racially offensive.”

She said officials had agreed to student demands to create a task force aimed at boosting African American faculty hiring and addressing under-representation of black students on the campus. Less than 2% of UC San Diego undergraduates are African American.

But students, faculty and activists said the administration’s reaction had been tepid. History professor Danny Widener, who directs the university’s African American Studies program, said students and faculty members “are pushing for some kind of punitive action and some broader redress.”

“The administration would prefer to continue to solve the problem through education, outreach and town hall grievance-airing,” Widener said. “So there’s a little bit of an impasse.”

Tensions have escalated since a Facebook invitation filled with racial stereotypes advertised the gathering last weekend. The invitation included references to "dat Purple Drank," an apparent mix of “sugar, water, and the color purple, chicken, coolade, and of course Watermelon.”

Members of the Pi Kappa Alpha were identified as among the organizers, but the fraternity’s president has distanced himself from the event, saying his club did not sponsor it.

Campus officials said this week that they were investigating whether party organizers had violated the university’s code of conduct and should face discipline. Rue noted that some of the students involved had been suspended by their fraternities.

The campus plans to hold a teach-in about the issue next week, but Chris Strudwick-Turner of the Los Angeles Urban League scoffed at the plan.

“The whole idea of a voluntary teach-in is ridiculous," she said. "And if it’s voluntary, those who are doing these awful things, why would they come? You’re teaching to those students who are already aware" of the problem.

--Amina Khan