UCLA Student Off Hook for Video Rant Against Asians
March 18, 2011
University says Alexandra Wallace Did Not Violate School Policy with Video
UCLA student Alexandra Wallace, whose viral video rant about Asians sparked outrage and a nationwide debate about whether her disparaging remarks were considered "free speech," will face no disciplinary action by the university.
"While some of the sentiments that were expressed in the video were hurtful, appalling and offensive, we have not uncovered any acts that violated the student code of conduct," university spokesman Phil Hampton told ABCNews.com today. "We have no intention of pursuing the matter further."
Hampton added that the university "zealously protects freedom of expression, however misugided or offensive to our core values that speech may be."
He also said the university was "disappointed with some of the threatening and vitriolic language that has been used by some in response to the video.
Wallace, a junior political science major, received death threats after her videotaped tirade, titled "Asians in the Library," was posted last Friday, the same day the earthquake and tsunami hit.
In the video, which went viral over the weekend, Wallace vented about "the hordes of Asian people" at UCLA and mocked them for talking on the phone in the library. "Ohhhh! Ching chong ling long ting tong!" she said, imitating an Asian student talking on the phone.
UCLA's Asian Pacific Coalition, an organization representing the university's 24 Asian-American and Pacific Islander student groups, called for the univeristy to discipline Wallace for using "hate speech" and violating the student code of conduct.
Members of the group did not respond immediately to requests for comment. But in an editorial in the Daily Bruin on Monday, the Asian Pacific Coalition wrote: "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."
They also called for an apology from Wallace and a statement from the administration.
On Monday, Wallace apologized for the video in a letter to the campus 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 school's chancellor, Gene Block, called the incident "a sad day for UCLA."
Alexandra Wallace Did Not Violate UCLA's Code of Conduct with Viral Video Rant
The dean of students began investigating the matter Monday.
"We'll be taking a look at the language that she uses in the video to see if it violates any codes under the student code, perhaps regarding harassment," Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students Robert J. Naples told the Daily Bruin, the university's newspaper, on Monday.
The investigation sparked debate throughout the country about whether Wallace should be punished and whether her comments were protected by the First Amendment.
UCLA law professor and noted First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh weighed in on the debate. In a blog post Tuesday he said, "The speech is clearly constitutionally protected, as well as being moronic."
"The premise of the American university (and, I think, American self-government more broadly) is that people need to be free to express their views," Volokh wrote, adding that implementing that premise meant "boneheaded statements have to be as protected as more well-reasoned statements."
The New York Times sided with Volokh in an editorial Thursday.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education or FIRE, in a letter sent to the chancellor Tuesday, urged the university to close its investigation, saying Wallace's tirade is protected by the First Amendment and does not constitute harassment.
Ultimately, Hampton said Friday, the university "uncovered no facts that would lead us to believe there has been a violation of the code of conduct." But David Yoo, the director of the Asian American Studies Center, hopes the issue does not end here. "It's important to move beyond the individual," he said, "to what are the larger issues that underlie that. This goes to larger issues of campus climate and culture."
Yoo said for over a decade students have been pushing for a course on diversity that undergraduates would be required to take just as they do at every other campus in the University of California system. He and Lane Hirabayashi, the Asian American Studies Department chair, once again called on the university to implement such a requirement.
Others have responded to Wallace's video with videos of their own. In one humorous slap at Wallace, a young Asian American fashioned her words into a song.
"Underneath the pounds of makeup and your baby blue eyes, I know there's a lot of pain and hurt, for such a big brain to spend all night studying Poly Sci, so I pick up my phone and sing," the young man sings in the chorus. "Ching chong: It means I love you. Ling long: I really want you. Ting tong: I don't actually know what that means."