Early arrivals to the MiraCosta College Oceanside campus Monday morning (November 30) discovered graffiti slurring MiraCosta’s African-American community.
Hateful words were spray-painted on the windows of the school’s student center, where the Black Student Union is located.
“This act sadly demonstrates that our campus is not immune to the unrest experienced nationally on college and university campuses,” wrote MiraCosta superintendent/president Sunita Cooke in an email distributed to all students and faculty this morning.
“Although the graffiti was quickly removed before classes began today, it prompted us to clearly state that MiraCosta College and local authorities do not tolerate hate crimes or the defacing of public property.”
The bigger problem, says Britney Means of MiraCosta’s Black Student Union, is that this is not an isolated incident. She feels the administration has covered up previous racist slurs.
“They have kept everything under wraps,” says Means. “I feel they have swept everything under the rug.” She said a Black Lives Matter celebration in September was met with negative comments and one student wearing a “Cops Lives Matter” cap.
Means pointed out a website by fellow student Isaac Velasquez, who posted a September 9 video showing sidewalk chalk drawings created for the Black Lives Matter event.
Velasquez points out that the man depicted in the drawing was later “redrawn,” embellished with a “drug hat,” watermelon, a shank, and a bottle of malt liquor. “Here it says ‘should have run’ which means he should have run if he didn’t want to get shot,” Velasquez says in his video. “This is what MiraCosta really thinks.”
Means says she does think the spray-painted slurs was a solo act.
“I would say it’s a much larger part of the student body than just one person…. To be honest with you, I don’t feel safe on this campus.”
Means says there are about 35 to 40 members of the Black Student Union and some 20 active members.
MiraCosta’s student union is also headquarters to MEChA (a Chicano student organization) and the Gay Student Union. Means says the spray-painted slurs discovered Monday were anti-black.
A call to Dr. Sunita Cooke and Cynthia Rice Carroll, MiraCosta interim associate dean of student services, was not returned. Carroll was a contact mentioned on Cooke’s campus-wide email.
Rita Soza, a business administration professor who is MCC’s acting communications director, says the school is not disclosing what the spray-painted words were.
“We have chosen not to dignify [the slurs],” said Soza. She says that in an emergency meeting Monday about the incident, a veteran administrator said this was the only act of its kind he can remember.
“He said we never had anything like this in his 30 years here.”
Soza says she was aware of the sidewalk chalk defacing but that the school did not consider it a hate crime.
“Other than that, we haven’t heard of any other [racially connected problems].” Soza says she has no problem discussing the ugly graffiti. “We do everything we can to keep people safe and informed. We are very transparent.”
Cooke asked students to notify campus police of any future demonstrations of “bigotry or and other hateful acts” and to use the “red emergency button on any campus phone.”
Soza added that a “safe room” has been set up on campus on Tuesday for “any student who might feel uncomfortable” to come in and speak with experienced counselors about the crime. She said Cooke was organizing activities with student leadership to increase understanding.
Soza says there have been no leads on the perpetrator.
“There are no cameras on campus.”