Tuesday, March 17, 2009

White people can't read/see/understand this

Photo Credit: Roger Wang '11, Prince Photographer

Discrimination is not new to Princeton's campus - regardless of which group is being targeted. Last week, discriminatory comments were found scrawled in Chinese in Bloomberg Hall. More photos after the jump.

Raphael Balsam '11, a Bloomberg Hall resident, was working on a computer in the third floor computer room when he noticed Chinese written on the blackboard last Sunday. He was surprised to learn that the writing translated to: "White people can't see this / White people can't read this / White people can't understand this" and immediately notified an RCA, Carrie Carpenter '10.
Photo Credit: Roger Wang '11, Prince Photographer

Carpenter then notified the Butler College Office and RCA advisers. Director of Student Life Mindy Andino said that two students came forward to discuss the situation with Director of Studies Matthew Lazen and that there would be a meeting with the RCA's after Spring Break.

"The Director of Studies met with the students who reported the incident and addressed their immediate concerns, " Andino said. "We will be meeting with the RCA’s at the start of next week to discuss the situation further. We are currently completing an investigation of the situation to learn more information."

Andino added that the College Office was trying to determine whether or not the message was a violation of the Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities (RRR).

"We have not yet completed our investigation and it is not clear whether a violation has occurred," she said.

She added that the students were encouraged to report the incident to Public Safety if they believed a violation had occurred but, to her knowledge, have not yet chosen to do so.

Roger Wang '11 said that among the few students who were present when the message was discovered, it was treated lightly. Wang is also a photographer for the 'Prince'.

"The attitude was a bit cynical, but I feel that there was a true concern regarding how the writing could be seen as a joke while an attack in English would suffer severe consequences," Wang said. "It was sort of taken in the way that the case should be taken seriously, although they felt that it would slide in the end. A bit self-fulfilling, I think."

According to the RRR handbook --

"Nonacademic Matters Involving Students"
Normally, an alleged infringement upon the rights or sensibilities of an individual, including complaints of discrimination, by an undergraduate or graduate student should first be discussed with that student. If this is not possible, or does not lead to a satisfactory resolution, the matter should be brought to the attention of the Dean or an Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students or the Dean of the Graduate School. If the matter is not resolved through discussion or through formal action by a dean, a complaint can be made in accordance with the normal disciplinary procedures (see page 65).

Do you believe the situation qualifies as an RRR violation and/or hate crime? What steps, if any, should be taken against the student if found?

--Tasnim Shamma '11


Anonymous said...

It's actual from a shirt that they used to sell online, and most likely the writers of that message were white themselves, so it was probably meant in jest.

Anonymous said...

To add to the comment above, the shirt was featured in a mockumentary of sorts, titled "Yellow Fever".
(link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5847984513475560733)

In this version of the shirt (sold @ http://www.post-jdm.com/) I'm pretty sure that the characters "bai ren kan bu dong" translate into "white people don't understand/can't read"

Full disclosure: I am Roger Wang, staff photographer for the Prince.

and to note an incorrect fact: Carrie Carpenter is the RCA of the side of 3rd floor Bloomberg that is nearest the computer cluster. Christine Prifti is Raphael's RCA.

Anonymous said...

This was definitely written by someone who is just starting to learn Chinese or was copying from a shirt or website. The characters are inconsistent and awkward. The joke is on them.

Tasnim Shamma '11 said...

Thank you Roger, correction made. That was an incorrect assumption made from Raphael's e-mail.

A_C said...

Yep, it's from a T-shirt featured in an online video. This is a pretty silly thing to get exercised about, but I suppose that has never stopped the sensitivity bureaucrats.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't look like proper chinese handwriting though. Is it possible that a white person wrote that as a sort of joke?

Anonymous said...

lol i cant believe balsam reported this. tooltooltooltooltool