‘Compton Cookout’ Flares Into Political Fireball

State lawmakers urge explulsions for racially offensive event

Getty Images/David Paul Morris

The so-called Compton Cookout has flared into a wide-spreading political fireball, burning UCSD and the students who took part in the ghetto-themed event on President's Day.

At a news conference Thursday on the steps of the state Capitol, angry lawmakers condemned the off-campus cookout and called on UCSD to impose swift and harsh punishment.

While no fraternity sponsored the event, members of more than one did organize and attend it, reflecting badly on the entire Greek system as well as the university.

"I believe that all fraternities or sororities need to go through some type of sensitivity training," said State Rep. Isadore Hall III, whose 52nd District encompasses the city of Compton. "I believe that expulsion of any student participating in this vicious, malicious and egregious act should take place."

Hall was joined by legislative colleagues of many ethnicities in denouncing the Compton Cookout, which was held Monday at a condo complex less than a mile from UCSD's campus. He quoted from the inflammatory Facebook invitation that helped generate -- according to word of mouth -- a turnout larger than the number of African-Americans in the student body (200 out of 20,000 undergraduates).

Since the event took place, the Black Students Union warned that some students may transfer out of the school and that minority recruiting will suffer as news coverage of the incident widens.

Leaders of the university's Greek system -- made up of 32 fraternities and sororities -- are taking pains to express their disgust with the cookout. They point to events such as a water balloon-oriented fundraiser on Library Walk, which benefits the City of Hope Cancer Research Center, as a more true measure of their social concerns.

"We want to promote education and get rid of the ignorance on campus just as much as anybody else," said UCSD sophomore Jared Cotto, an Interfraternity Council representative. "It's really unfortunate what happened, but we're on the forefront of combating that ignorance."

UCSD officials were on hand at the news conference in Sacramento, assuring lawmakers that school officials are exploring every avenue of accountability and punishment. In addition, university adminstrators scheduled a cultural-senstivity teach-in at the Price Center on Wednesday and launched an anti-bigotry campaign called Not in Our Community.

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