Hateful and racist graffiti aimed at black students was discovered in the men’s rest room in the Engineering Technology Building at Diablo Valley College on March 6.
The image drawn was of a stick figure being lynched accompanied by the words, “No ni**ers working in trades.”
The hate crime outraged students culminating in a campuswide walk out rally one week later.
DVC’s Pan African Union President D’joina Lockett helped organize the rally.
“We wanted to show our outrage and let it be known that we will not stand for that kind of hate, and also show our outrage with the way the school handled these incidents in the past. We believed they watered down the severity of the graffiti when they told students about it. They did not mention the fact that it was a literal violent threat toward black students.”
Hundreds of students from DVC, and a handful from Contra Costa College, attended the rally to voice their opinions and show their support for black students and students of color.
The rally was an opportunity for students of color to address DVC President Susan Lamb and other faculty members.
Lockett said, “There were teachers and a lot of students that walked out with us. It was way more than we expected and we used the rally as a platform to give out our list of demands to the president.”
Vanessa Gallang, another rally organizer, read off a list of demands to Lamb.
The demands included anti-racist training for faculty and staff, a notification system to better inform students of important incidents on campus and a mandatory meeting between the college president and students.
Contra Costa Community College District Chancellor Fred Wood said he and the college presidents met to discuss the graffiti situation at DVC.
He also said because of the speed in which information is spread across social media platforms, it seemed district administrators lacked concern.
Lamb does not believe the incident is a reflection of DVC.
“I believe every college in the past year has had at least one incident of racist graffiti,” Lamb said. “At DVC this will not be tolerated and this is not what we stand for. In response to the list of demands, I made it clear that certain things on that list are things I have no direct control over. Anti-racist training for example — I don’t have control over staff training.”
Lamb did say the DVC college council is creating a task force to help with the ongoing topic of race the task force is being formed to help advise and recommend steps to administration and staff when discussing racial issues.
The graffiti contained a drawing of a lynching and hate toward black students in the trades and raised questions about the administration’s handling of hate crimes on campus.
Terell Patillo, a DVC student who attended the rally, said, “I definitely think the administration’s response was just damage control, because it’s not surprising this happened on this campus.
“That’s kind of the culture on campus,” he said. “I also think its suspicious that the administration only begins the discussion on race and racism after an incident like this.”
Patillo said the handling of the hateful graffiti has made students lose trust in administrators on a campus where, according to the district’s information system DataMart, roughly 6 percent of DVC’s students are black.
Patillo said, “I don’t think they genuinely care to do anything about it.”
CCC La Raza Vice President Ricardo Sanchez also attended the March 6 rally.
“We were there to show support and let them know that CCC has their back,” he said.
Sanchez was also skeptical about the district’s response to the incident.
”I find it suspicious how it’s not until an incident like this happens, that the administration suddenly wants to be transparent. It shouldn’t take something like this to begin communications between the president and students.”