EVERYTHING’S RACISM: Students Held Sit-In After Complaining Grammar And Punctuation Corrections by Professor Were Racist

Published on November 24, 2013

Current and former students in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies expressed their support for professor emeritus Val Rust following a demonstration in one of his graduate classes last Thursday.

Student demonstrators alleged that there is a “toxic” racial climate in the graduate school, including in Rust’s classroom. Organizers told the Daily Bruin last week that they decided to host the demonstration after a recent report examining racial discrimination among the university’s faculty stated that UCLA’s policies and procedures do not sufficiently address racially motivated instances of discrimination.

After Thursday’s sit-in, several current and former students said they did not believe there was a problem with racial discrimination in Rust’s class.

[UDPATED at 1 a.m.: In a letter sent to colleagues in the department after the sit-in, Rust said students in the demonstration described grammar and spelling corrections he made on their dissertation proposals as a form of “micro-aggression.”

“I have attempted to be rather thorough on the papers and am particularly concerned that they do a good job with their bibliographies and citations, and these students apparently don’t feel that is appropriate,” Rust said in the letter.

He said the protesters were also responding to a conversation in class between two students about critical race theory that he allowed to take place by not stopping the discussion.

Rust added he thought the department should organize a town hall meeting later in the month to begin a dialogue.]

“Many of (the demonstrators’) individual stories were very touching and I feel something ought to be done to address their concerns,” he said in the letter.

Rust, who is giving a series of lectures in China this week, could not be reached for additional comment.

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, the dean of the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, said in a letter to the school’s department of education Tuesday that he expects all members of the graduate school community to be respectful, and that acts of discrimination are not tolerated in the school.

Read more: dailybruin.com