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Rally planned in response to VSU sign vandalization

By Erin Donnelly

Nov. 28, 2012 1:05 a.m.

The original version of this article contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.

University police are investigating a report of a Vietnamese Student Union sign that was vandalized with racial and sexist slurs on the fourth floor of Kerckhoff Hall Tuesday morning.

A piece of paper, which read “asian women R Honkie white-boy worshipping Whores” and had an illustration of an obscene hand gesture, was attached to the sign.

Anees Hasnain, community service commissioner for the Undergraduate Students Association Council, saw the sign at about 8 a.m. and reported it in an email to campus administrators.

The sign had been taken down by around 11 a.m. Hasnain, a fourth-year sociology student, said she does not know who removed the sign.

Hasnain called university police about filing a report and was told that she needed to file it in person. She said classes and pre-planned meetings prevented her from officially reporting the vandalism earlier in the day.

Roman Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese Student Union and a fifth-year international development studies student, filed a report about the incident with UCPD. The report was filed at about 6:30 p.m., said Nancy Greenstein, a UCPD spokeswoman.

Another vandalism incident occurred in February, when racial and sexual slurs were written on the apartment door of a UCLA student.

While they did receive a report for the February incident, university police do not receive many reports of hate crimes in general, Greenstein said.

“There is a fine line between freedom of speech and hate speech,” Greenstein said. “Sometimes people won’t report it because they aren’t sure if it crosses the line.”

She added that it is difficult for police to determine a trend when crimes are not reported to police in a timely manner and encouraged students to report any incident to the Dean of Students if they do not want to report it to police.

Steve Ritea, a spokesman for the university, said that all incidents that demean or hurt any group on campus are unfortunate.

But he said university officials could not comment on the most recent incident because it had not been reported to police by the end of the working day.

[UPDATED at 2:30 p.m.: The Vietnamese Student Union released a statement Wednesday morning condemning the incident. Group members said they were offended because they feel the paper attached to the sign depicted Asian women as submissive and inferior to white men, according to the statement.

“This message breeds divisiveness and seeks to undo the work of many people of color and allies,” the statement said.]

At Tuesday night’s Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting Hassain said Tuesday’s incident brought up a larger issue of campus climate.

At the meeting Anh Nguyen, internal vice president for the Vietnamese Student Union and a third-year global studies student, condemned yesterday’s incident and said she thought it could be damaging for the university’s reputation given that the undergraduate application deadline is Friday.

“I was really offended, especially by the fact it was printed and someone took the time to post this, because that means it was something that was deliberate and planned for,” Roman Nguyen said.

The Vietnamese Student Union will hold a rally about campus climate at noon on Thursday in front of Kerckhoff Hall, said Anh Nguyen.

Contributing reports from James Barragan and Sonali Kohli, Bruin senior staff, and Kristen Taketa, Bruin reporter.

Correction: Roman Nguyen filed a report about the incident with UCPD.

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