Minorities targeted for drive-by bigotry


Editorial Board

When someone in a passing car told ESL student Ziyou Shang, “Go back to China,” near the W.T. Young Library, she did not want to just let it go.

Shang had arrived at UK about three weeks prior, and she had been told by relatives living in Lexington that Americans were kind and accepting of international students.

Now, though, Shang said she does not think most Americans are racist, but she is unsure about staying at UK for graduate school because she is afraid that something similar could happen again.

The Kentucky Kernel has received multiple letters to the editor, and a column, within the past month showing instances of ‘drive-by bigotry’ on or near campus.

This will be a difficult problem for UK to fix for many reasons: it is hard to erase bigotry, drive-by bigotry is not necessarily illegal or against UK’s Code of Student Conduct, and even if it was against the code of conduct, it is almost impossible to find the perpetrators.

It is a tough problem to fix, but a mandatory diversity class for all UK freshmen is a good place to start.

When a group of black and African-American students met with President Eli Capilouto in his home last semester, a required diversity class was one of their main recommendations for improving race relations on campus.

Journalism junior Kaelin Massey said she thinks communication is key to improving understanding between all students on campus, minorities and otherwise.

Near Blazer Hall on Avenue of Champions, a man and a woman drove past Massey and yelled “N*****” multiple times. She tried to confront them, but they drove away.

“I want to understand why, why do you do that?” Massey said. “What is the purpose of you making me feel bad?”

She said a mandatory diversity class is needed, and it would help students of different backgrounds understand each other.

If students in their freshman year talk with other students about race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status, they will become more empathetic to groups of people they may never have met before.

Part of college is broadening horizons and meeting new types of people, but as UK is structured right now, students can still go through their entire college career without having meaningful conversations about race, gender or creed.

While colleges require students to take a class dealing with some kind of diversity, those classes do not compare to a course specifically tailored to teaching students about understanding their peers.

Race relations has been one of the biggest issues this year at UK, and the administration should acknowledge this with real change. If UK wants minority students to have a welcoming experience on campus, a mandatory diversity class would be a step in the right direction.

Email [email protected]