Survey Finds UCLA’s Policies, Administration Insufficiently Handle Racial Bias

An internal survey shows that University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) policies and procedures regarding racial bias and discrimination are inadequate.  The survey, which was launched by Chancellor Gene D. Block in 2012, found that allegations of racism were rarely investigated and rarely resulted in sanctions or punishments.

The survey showed that racial divisions were found among faculty members, and nearly all of whom surveyed said they had experienced some level of discrimination. It found that the university is completely failed to adequately record, investigate and provide disciplinary sanctions for incidents which, if substantiated, would constitute violations of university nondiscrimination policy, writes Stephen Ceasar of The Loss Angeles Times.

Block informed faculty and administrators that he will take the report’s findings seriously. The university, as a first step, will appoint a full-time campus discrimination officer to investigate allegations of bias.

“Rhetoric is no substitute for action. We must set an example for our students. We cannot tolerate bias, in any form, at UCLA. I sincerely regret any occasions in the past in which we have fallen short of our responsibility,” Block wrote in a letter to staff.

A five-member survey team included former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, attorney Connie Rice, former UC Davis professor Dr. Maga Jackson-Triche, UCLA professor emeritus Gary Nash and  Bob Suzuki, former president of Cal Poly Pomona. The panel interviewed 30 administrators and faculty members.

According to the survey’s findings, nearly every faculty member of color was upset by the incidents of perceived bias, discrimination or intolerance they had experienced at the university. Nearly all of them said they felt that the offending parties were never forced to face consequences for their actions.

The report states that UCLA’s reaction to such complaints has consistently been to attempt to placate the injured faculty member without repercussions to the offending party. In 2012-13, African Americans made up 3% of faculty, while Latinos represented 6% and Asians made up about 17%. Whites made up about 73% of the faculty, according to the report.

Two current faculty members told the survey team that their department, which was not identified, is divided along racial lines. They said a group of white male professors was in charge of the department and used racially or ethnically insensitive language.

A faculty member working in health sciences said a senior faculty member loudly called him a racial epithet in front of students in 2008. He made a complain to the assistant dean of his department, but was advised against going further because it “would cause more trouble,” the report said.

There appears to be a simmering resentment toward minority faculty among some of their white colleagues — probably over efforts to add diversity to their ranks, said Rice, a civil rights attorney and former advisor to UCLA Chancellor Charles Young.

Three months ago, Dr. Christian Head, a former surgeon at UCLA’s medical school, was paid $4.5 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit against the UC Board of Regents. According to Head, the university failed to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation against him.

Block said he is committed to helping transform UCLA into a fully inclusive community. “No one should ever have to deal with anything less than mutual respect and equal consideration from their colleagues, particularly in a learning environment,” he said.

10 24, 2013
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