Attack sparks petition at UCSC

The Queer Student Union of University of California, Santa Cruz decided to create a petition based on their reaction and feeling to an incident that occurred against someone in the community.

Students For Action proposed their petition on Feb. 25 not only to UCSC, but also UC Chancellor George R. Blumenthol and the administration. The petition explains that the QSU understands and appreciates that the administration is trying to help them and that they offer multiple useful resources aimed towards helping students in these types of situations. However it also demonstrates that the QSU feels there is not enough being done to completely eliminate the attacks that occur at Kresge College, the sixth established college at UCSC.

According to UCSC Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway, the school wants to do all they can to prevent hate crimes and address QSU’s concerns.

“I have seen the petition and am currently assessing what else we can do,” Galloway said.

On Feb. 6, UCSC students Brandon Wayne Beaton and Jesse Eric Robles of Los Baños were arrested by police officers responding to a call about a fight at Kresge College. The police are investigating the fight as if it were a hate crime because the victims of the incident appeared to be attacked based upon their sexual orientation.

There was a public meeting, “Strength Through Solidarity,” held at Kresge College Town Hall on Feb. 18 to discuss what had occurred. The QSU’s External Vice Chair, Samuel Simpson, said the meeting, “was attended by the students affected, members of the lgbtq community and allies, and several staff members involved with the resource centers.”

“UC Santa Cruz and the students here have responded in an overwhelmingly positive way,” Simpson said, also mentioning that students raised money to help pay for the victims’ medical cost.

As of March 10, 2,078 people have signed the petition, which means the QSU only has 422 signatures left until their goal of 2,500 is reached. While there are only four demands, each one plays a role of significance to the UCSC community.

“The campus has 40 all-gender bathrooms, and campus police will offer free self-defense classes in the spring,” said Scott Hernandez-Jason, director of news and media relations.

This meets the first two of the demands that are part of the petition. The latter two demands are the “creation, implementation and enforcement of mandatory, university-wide trainings/workshops to educate,” according to the petition and “for the immediate creation and hiring of multiple UC Santa Cruz queer-specialist professional staff members, at least one of them being a trans-specialist.”

When or if these two demands are going to be met is uncertain.

“As much as I hope assault would never happen here, we must be aware that hate crimes are a possibility anywhere,” said AJ Bates, Skyline’s Gay Straight Alliance adviser.

According to the statistics, there were five incidents of on-campus aggravated assault from the years 2011-2013. The security department at Skyline encourages everyone on campus to report any and all criminal, suspicious or hazardous acts that occur.

“Learning that something like that can happen so close to you in a space you assumed was safe is quite terrifying,” Simpson said.

This is the reality that communities face when confronted by hate crimes. However, Simpson concluded that the overall atmosphere at UCSC is safe and accepting for everyone.

“This incident, while horrible, is a bit of an outlier and UC Santa Cruz in general is a safe and supportive place for members of the queer and trans communities,” Simpson said.