Third-year UCLA student Alexandra Wallace, who went viral over the weekend with a racist YouTube rant about Asian students in the university library, has issued an apology through the school’s newspaper.
“Clearly the original video posted by me was inappropriate,” she said in the statement. “I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would. I’d like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand.”
The statement, which was sent to the the Daily Bruin on Monday morning, is short and simple, but Wallace no doubt understood the severity of the situation. According to a campus police spokeswoman, Wallace contacted university police Sunday evening after receiving multiple death threats via e-mail and phone.
Police advised her to take a number of precautions, including rescheduling her finals–y’know, the ones she was studying for when she kept on getting interrupted with “Ohhhh. Ching chong ling long ting tong oooooooh” from Asian students on their cell phones.
The university has also issued an apology. On Monday afternoon, Chancellor Gene Block sent an e-mail to students and released its own video in response to Wallace’s YouTube hit.
“I am appalled by the thoughtless and hurtful comments of a UCLA student posted on YouTube,” Block said in the statement. “Speech that expresses intolerance toward any group of people … is indefensible and has no place at UCLA.”
The Asian American Studies Department and Center at UCLA has also issued a response, offering some context to the controversy:
“Asians in the Library” is a travesty on many levels, representing an attack on Asian and Asian American students and their families and undermining UCLA as a global university with deep ties to communities and institutions in Asia and other parts of the world. It entails a “new racism” by foregrounding students who speak Asian languages and have different family traditions, as it insidiously groups and attacks UCLA’s American-born as well as our international students of Asian ancestry. As the only University of California campus without a diversity requirement, UCLA surely needs to implement a diversity requirement that will expose every student to the task of living civilly with people of different origins, backgrounds, orientations, and beliefs, whether they are born here or come from abroad.
Asian American Studies at UCLA emerged from the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s and 1970s to enrich the experience of the entire university by contributing to an understanding of the long neglected history, rich cultural heritage, and present position of Asian Americans in our society. This type of prejudice and use of derogatory words cannot be tolerated at a campus that claims that “Diversity is a core value of UCLA.”
UCLA’s Asian Pacific Coalition, a progressive umbrella organization representing Asian-American clubs and organizations on campus also issued a statement via Facebook, in which they show Wallace they can fend for themselves, with grace:
As evidenced by the responses of outrage and hurt from our community, it is clear that this student’s comments can be considered a hate speech, an act of discrimination, harassment, and profiling.
However, we must address the many ignorant comments stemming from our own community in reaction to Wallace’s comments. While we condemn this student’s remarks as not only ignorant and offensive but hateful as well, we believe that we as a community can do better than to resort to the student’s tactics of throwing out divisive words, which only perpetuate a culture of racism and sexism on both sides.
The university has not taken any action agaisnt Wallace at this time. Robert Naples, associate vice chancellor and dean of students, told the Daily Bruin that officials are examining the video, the student code of conduct and Wallace’s First Amendment rights.
“(Wallace) has made judgments about a certain race, and people have made judgements about her, but we’ve got to make the correct judgments in the dean’s office, and in order to do that we need to know everything first,” Naples told the school paper.