University of La Verne Students Hold Rally Following Racially Motivated Hate Crime

University of La Verne senior Samantha McKinney held a handmade poster with the email that Students with a Voice, a student action group on campus, received from ULV’s Board of Trustees Chair Luis Faura while leading a rally at noon Monday in the Johnson Family Plaza. McKinney put together the rally after her and other students were unhappy with the response the University had to a racially motivated act of arson that occurred on campus the previous Friday, as well as the University’s general response to other student issues.

Before the rally picked up speed, less than 10 students were gathered in the plaza. A campus public relations official followed the students through the Campus Center and Wilson Library as they looked for more students to join the rally. After an attempt to find more students, McKinney decided to go back to the plaza, stand on top of a statue platform, and begin. Soon, more students and faculty stopped to listen and eventually about 100 were present.

“I’ll preach to 10 or I’ll preach to 100. We pay $60,000. Enough is enough. Period. People are waking up in the morning scared. I didn’t come out here to hold back so let me just say this: F*** your candlelight vigil,” McKinney said in reference to a vigil the University was hosting later that evening. She said the vigil was a public relations stunt by the University, but students should still go to pay respect to the students hurt over the incident. McKinney stressed that the rally was where to voice concerns, not the vigil.

At the rally, McKinney alleged that she was sexually assaulted on campus and unhappy with how she felt re-victimized by the La Verne Police Department and Campus Safety after reporting it. McKinney claims that the assault, which happened in the University’s parking structure, was caught on camera and that she never received the footage from Campus Safety (as footage is erased and recorded over after 24 hours) nor was the student responsible expelled. “I’m graduating with the person that raped me. We’re letting kids sit with their abusers,” she said.

McKinney opened the discussion up to other students and faculty present. Senior Tyler Anderson said, “I would love to give money to my University, but I refuse to do that if they don’t address issues for students of my community. Whatever the University has to do in order to change the narrative, if they need to fire some people, if they need to make some adjustments, let’s make some adjustments. I would really love for things to be changed drastically, because I would still love to be an alumnus of La Verne and take that into the world with me and not feel like that’s something that’s attached to a hate crime on campus. That should not be the legacy of my degree.”

Graduate student Trevor Welch agreed. He said that at times, he no longer wants to put the University of La Verne on his resume and often, in both his graduate and undergraduate career, considered transferring. However, untransferable and La Verne specific units has stopped him. McKinney and Anderson picked up on this, and asked the crowd of students how many have considered dropping out of the University, to which many raised their hands.

Professors Morgan Sandler and Richard Rose among others were present and asked how faculty could support. McKinney and the crowd thanked them for coming, as well as members of campus Greek organizations.

“To come out here and stand in their letters… that means a lot,” McKinney said.

The University had announced that members of the fraternity Phi Delta Theta and members of a student activist organization known as Decolonize University of La Verne had a no-contact order in an email to students and faculty.

DCULV received threats via Instagram direct message. DCULV posted screenshots of the threats to their Twitter (@DCULV2). The alleged threats included a photo from previous DCULV protests and the messages: “Every single one in this photo will get what is coming to them… That wet back bitch (name redacted by DCULV) and that n***** (name redacted by DCULV) need to SHUT THEIR DIRTY F****** MOUTHS. WE KNOW WHERE THEY LIVE AND WHAT CARS THEY DRIVE. If one of them DIRT B****es get it after night classes you know why. This ain’t no f***ing colored AMERICA.”

Members of DCULV claim these messages were reported to Campus Safety. Three hours after the arson, the group tweeted the aforementioned screenshots with: “Current climate @ULaVerne. Students threatened, theft arson and hate crime. Students who have been directly threatened have not heard from administration.” On March 3, the group tweeted a photo showing that the Instagram messages came from the fraternity’s Instagram page.

The Campus Times reports sophomore Josiah Manzanares said a Hispanic female student in the parking lot asked to use his phone to call for help regarding her car around 8:30 a.m. the day of the arson.

“She asked if she could use my phone so she could call the police or fire department, or campus safety. I gave her my phone, and then a campus safety officer came by and she flagged him down. At first I thought that it was a fried battery or something but there was smoke coming from every opening of the car,” Manzanares told the Campus Times.

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