‘Compton Cookout' Creates Campus Uproar

A racist-themed party organized by UCSD students over the weekend has created an uproar that's gone beyond the university's small African-American community.
Outraged administrators are concerned that Internet reports and word-of-mouth will stifle minority recruiting efforts.

At issue is the so-called Compton Cookout, whose off-campus hosts used racial stereotypes to promote a ghetto atmosphere and dress code in flyers and a Facebook invitation.
Black students, already a rarity on campus, are feeling even more marginalized.

"It's insulting, it's degrading, it's derogatory," said UCSD sophomore Elize Diop. "We're being made fun of, we're being made a mockery of, and we're not being taken seriously. It's hard enough that we have less than 2 percent on this campus. We have it hard. These are the people who are insulted. These are your black friends on campus."

What happened is not how the African-American students -- or UCSD administrators -- wanted Black History Month to be observed at an upscale condo complex less than a mile from campus by racially insenstive fraternity guys and guests, partying as if they were comical residents of downscale Compton, Calif., and tarnishing the image of a university often put on a pedestal.       

"I'm most touched by the fact that students who personally felt stereotyped are hurting," UCSD Vice Chancellor Penny Rue said.

UCSD officials are looking for ways to hold the hosts accountable and are planning a series of campus teaching moments. There will be a Not in Our Community campaign, aimed at promoting diversity and civility.

The Black Students Union is speaking out now about social conditions they say they have suffered in relative silence.

"It's not cool," UCSD junior Theresa Richards said. "It's disheartening and it's hurtful, and I'm appalled that we're having to talk about it in this day and age."

Students including Richards think it's about time that administrators got proactive.     

"They need to get more color on campus," Richards said. "I mean, with this it's going to be even harder, because kids are going to be like, 'Oh, I don't want to go here. There's no black people. They're mean and they talk bad about us.' "

Reaction around the Web ranged from messages dismissing the party as no big deal to one saying they needed to remove a 'Proud to be UCSD' license plate frame.

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