IRVINE, Calif. (AP) – University of California, Irvine officials pledged to work on race relations on campus this week after a black student found a hand-scrawled note in her backpack calling her a slave, making it the second racist incident that has offended black students in recent weeks.
Campus tensions have flared up over the note that told the girl to “go back 2 Africa,” and comes on the heels of an Asian fraternity’s offensive Internet video of a student dancing in blackface, the Orange County Register reported.
Lambda Theta Delta apologized and accepted a 16-month university suspension for the incident, which hasn’t been connected to the note.
The troubling incident runs contrary to the values of diversity promoted on campus, said Vice Chancellor Thomas Parham.
The student told campus investigators she discovered the note in her backpack while she was studying in a campus library Tuesday night, Parham said. She had left her backpack unattended briefly to use the bathroom and discovered the note after she returned, but it’s unclear when the note was put in her bag.
“We are doing our best to wrap our arms around the student to make sure she feels safe and secure,” Parham said.
Campus officials learned of the incident after the victim’s mother gave an interview to a San Diego television station, and then contacted the student.
“I hurt for my daughter because I feel like we should be past this and there’s no justification for them to be mean and be like this,” Stephanie Lyons told ABC 10 News.
Lyons said her daughter, Charity, is a member of the track team and the Dean’s List, and attends UCI on an academic scholarship.
UC Irvine didn’t confirm the student’s name, citing privacy concerns.
Black student leaders are calling for UC Irvine to strengthen campus cultural awareness initiatives and make African American studies a full-fledged academic department.