PIKE Incident Inspires Student Action
Jonah Gojar


Though the Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity hate incident occurred nearly two months ago, resulting in the fraternity’s placement on an interim suspension, meaning that members have had to step down from InterFraternity Council positions and the fraternity is not recognized by the university, allowed to recruit new members, or permitted to host its 18th annual Fight Night, members of the Asian-Pacific Islander (API) community and several other organizations remain unsatisfied with these consequences and have taken further steps to mobilize and rally against hate crimes.
For many students, such as Paul Monge, a second-year global studies and sociology major and co-chair of the A.S. Student Commission on Racial Equality (SCORE), racism is frequently faced in Santa Barbara. When Monge hosted friends from different chapters of the Salvadorian Student Association, he and his friends experienced such hate first-hand.
“We were crossing DP and speaking Spanish,” said Monge. “As we were walking, there was a group of fraternity and sorority members. As we were speaking Spanish, somebody yelled” F—ing foreigners.” That drew me back because these were my guests, and this was their first impression of my home,” he said. “It reminded me of the fact that I have to work in order to prove my place to show that I’ve earned it. That’s the burden of being an underrepresented member of society. We’re reminded constantly that we don’t belong here and that we don’t fit in. That’s another thing we have to deal with.”
Jakriza Cabrera, a third-year global and international studies major, has experienced similar racial comments while walking through Isla Vista.
“Just walking in the streets as a woman and as an Asian American female, you get a lot of comments,” she said. “Even though you’re not physically hurt, there’s a lot of trauma going around. Women in general feel uncomfortable to walk around by themselves at night. I hear ‘Asian Persuasion’ and all of those comments.”
The cause of this recent uproar can be traced back to the morning of March 2, when, according to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, Thanh Hong, a third-year student, and his friend, who wished to remain anonymous, were walking home and passed the PIKE fraternity house, in front of which a group of five to six men were assembled. One of the individuals allegedly began shouting at Hong and his friend. After the two ignored him, the individual allegedly came up to Hong and his friend and pushed them from behind.
The assailant allegedly began making racial slurs such as “ching-chong-ching” and “gook” and proceeded to punch Hong’s friend in the face. When Hong attempted to help his friend, the assailant allegedly punched him as well, lacerating his upper lip. The other men standing in front of the PIKE house witnessed the attack but did not partake in it.
Sean Moran, the current president of PIKE, issued a statement on the fraternity’s behalf, responding to assault allegations and divulging the efforts that the PIKE has made.
“Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity does not support behavior that is violent, demeaning, or derogatory toward any person or groups of people,” reads the response. “Immediate action has been taken to expel the individual who committed the alleged assault and to place any parties involved on administrative suspension with the Fraternity.”
Though not directly in response to the attack, on Thursday, April 16, SCORE will hold a march as part of its No On Hate campaign, targeting those unaware that racial hate still exists and bringing to light that many continue to experience it, even on this campus.
Some believe that students may not realize these crimes persist because they are not exposed to them. Cabrera noted the time lapse between the PIKE incident and its public attention.
“When I heard, I was so pissed because the incidnet was said to have happened on March 2, and we found out by almost Spring Break,” she said. “How could something like this happen without anyone knowing about it? That was pretty major, considering [the victims] had to get medical help.”
Others, however, believe that the process of reporting racism should be re-evaluated. “I think the university has a really long history of hate crimes, but it’s so hidden and it’s so silenced,” said Monge. “I think that’s partly due to the fact that it’s so difficult for students to pursue reporting a hate crime. It’s hard enough for them to experience something, but having to go to the police department, having to go to the office of judicial affairs, and having to prove the fact that they experienced a hate crime, it’s a really discouraging process. And it deters students from reporting a hate crime.”
Presently, SCORE is working with the IVFP and the Office of Judicial Affairs (OJA) to establish greater awareness, including devising a better notification system for the Foot Patrol to report such events to students, implementing a required online seminar for incoming students addressing diversity and race, and effectively publicizing the OJA as a safe space for students to report hate crimes.
In addition, many members of the API community and surrounding communities have taken actions such as writing letters to or e-mailing the Chancellor, or spreading the story through the Internet. Members of organizations such as the Vietnamese Student Association, Kapatirang Pilipino, and several fraternities and sororities have held collective meetings to discuss plans of action.
Cabrera, who heard about the attack on Hong via a Facebook note from a SCORE co-chair, took it upon herself to spread the word.
“Besides the note, I sent out a personal e-mail to all the Asian-Pacific Islander leaders. I basically copy-pasted the story. I said this shouldn’t be ignored; it shouldn’t be another statistic. It was a ‘call-up for action’ type of e-mail.”
Currently, the IVFP and the OJA continue to investigate the PIKE case. While several witnesses have come forward, the individual responsible for the racially charged assault remains unclear.
For some however, there may be a silver lining.
“I think one positive thing I’ve seen come out of [the PIKE incident] is the unification of the API community, and also other communities,’ Monge said. “It’s unfortunate that it requires the injury of an individual for the community to come together, but at least now there’s progress. I’m really happy to see that the community is making strides and that we’re progressing and mobilizing behind this issue.”
Similarly, Hong’s attorney, Edwin Prather, who also attended UCSB and specializes in Asian hate crimes, noted, “I do know that the more buzz this creates, the more the school recognizes this as a problem, the more the school does,” he said. “[The community] should be working hand in hand. The bigger the group, the bigger the voice, the bigger the impact.”