On May 26, a racist blurb against the Armenian people was written in student-funded satirical paper, The Koala, at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Disappointed in the distasteful writings of the paper which touched upon stereotypes, comparisons to animals, and the Armenian peoples’ genocidal history, the UCSD’s Armenian Students’ Association, Alpha Gamma Alpha, Alpha Epsilon Omega, and the All-Armenian Students’ Association released a statement regarding their concern with the lack of inclusivity The Koala exudes and calling upon the university, that rejects any act of discrimination, to “honor their promise to take action due to the clear violation.”
“To whom it may concern,
At the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), we are proud to promote a climate of inclusivity and diversity, and this includes all students of different race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. As Armenian students who attend this institution, our respective organizations (the Armenian Students’ Association, Alpha Gamma Alpha, Alpha Epsilon Omega, and the All-Armenian Students’ Association) aim to uphold the Principles of Community created by the University and every student’s right to feel safe on campus.
On May 26th, 2016, it was brought to our attention that The Koala, an independently student funded paper at the University of California, San Diego, recently published a problematic and hateful blurb aimed at the Armenian population, violating the Principles of Community. In the satirical segment, titled “Top 5 Downsides of Having an Armenian Baby,” Armenians were ridiculed not only for their physical appearance, but also stereotypically compared to Kim Kardashian and to animals, also suggesting an Armenian baby be sacrificed to Turks. Although we understand that The Koala is a satirical paper, we do not appreciate this poor taste in journalism, which was very clearly aimed at our minority group. Satire is aimed to support victims, not further isolate and demean them.
Most specifically, the segment made light of the Armenian people’s genocidal past. The Armenians are an ethnic minority who experienced genocide from 1915 to 1923 by the hand of the Ottoman Empire, annihilating 1.5 million individuals and leaving thousands without homes or families in the process. We are appalled that a group of supposedly educated collegiates in the 21st century would feel the need to publish such ignorant, hateful, and insensitive content. Mocking the atrocities that were inflicted on our ancestors and the trans-generational trauma we as modern day Armenians experience is crossing the line. More than an entire century after the genocide started, it is painful to see that certain individuals still refuse to acknowledge the severity of the situation. We as Armenians have prospered and contributed immensely to the United States as a whole, yet we are perpetually made to feel unwelcome by acts such as this. Furthermore, though we comprise a small percentage of the student population at UCSD, we work to add to the collective consciousness of the UCSD student body by educating about the Armenian Genocide, and also stand with other minority groups who experience outright racism and hate-speech on a daily basis.
The Koala has published various other problematic articles throughout its existence aimed at various ethnic groups and social issues. According to the Principles of Community, UCSD rejects “acts of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs, and, will confront and appropriately respond to such acts.” We as Armenians at the university, will not stand for this form of harassment and call upon the administration to honor their promise to take action due to the clear violation. As a group who has endured victimization throughout our history, this form of hate will not be tolerated in the 21st century. We refuse to feel unsafe on our own campus and we will fervently pursue our efforts in bringing forth justice not only for this isolated incident, but for the hundreds of other articles published in the past aimed at other minority groups.
We acknowledge that the writers at The Koala, and any other individual at the University are entitled to the freedom of speech. We also acknowledge that any statement made by The Koala does not reflect the views of UCSD proper. That being said, we are concerned that a school that prides itself on hosting an inclusive campus climate would allow such hate and discrimination to continue for so long. It is time to put an end to this lewd behavior that has clearly made thousands of student in the past feel unsafe and thousands more to come.”
Alpha Gamma Alpha, Inc., CEO
Alpha Epsilon Omega, Executive Director
All-Armenian Student Association, Chair
Alpha Gamma Alpha, Zeta Chapter, President
Alpha Epsilon Omega, Eta Chapter, President
Armenian Student Association, President