“UC Merced proudly serves the most ethnically and culturally diverse student body among all University of California campuses.”
Hours after I wrote my previous blog post regarding the incident that occurred on Wednesday morning, UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland announced the identity of the suspect, 18-year-old computer and engineering student Faisal Mohammed, who was shot dead after being chased by the police department on campus for stabbing several students and staff members.
Although the Chancellor and the police report insisted that this had nothing to do with terrorism, some new sources linked his name and ethnicity to terrorism and fundamental Islamic groups. One of the more notorious articles published was by FOX news, which linked the attack to ISIS and stated that they showed support for him on their twitter page. As a result, articles like this caused a lot of negative remarks about Musllims.
But the Bobcats decided to strike back!
In one of his Facebook posts, Noe Ramirez-Ontiveros calls out all his fellow students not to take the incident to a wrong end and not to interpret the suspect’s motives based on his name or ethnical background. “It really hurt to see what the media was saying online, and I just think it's very important our students aren't as closed-minded as a lot of those running the media,” Noe added.
Noe was not the only student who spoke up against xenophobia. UC Merced Classifieds was overloaded with posts that condemn the media’s reaction to the incident. All students insisted on the fact that all the reasons behind the attack were personal, and that neither ISIS nor terrorism had anything to do with it. Some also took it further; they were aware that the suspect was passing through hard times, and that although what he did was unacceptable and should be dealt with by a zero tolerance policy, we should also understand that whoever does this thing for sure is passing through traumatic conditions.
By standing together as one family against the attack, and ensuring that our campus is not just the place were we attend classes or study for exams, we also have promoted one of our community’s most utopian goals: Diversity. Here at UC Merced, we not only showed that we reach out for each other during the hardest times, but also we have abandoned judging people based on their names, race, religion, or nationality. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Hinduists, Whites, Blacks, Middle Easterners, Asians, Latinos and all others just came along to drop out these labels and join together to protect this small utopia that’s also known as the University of California, Merced.
UC Merced community spoke it out loud, and our words were “Xenophobia is never welcomed on our campus.”