Three University of Puget Sound “students of color” suspended for allegedly creating a list of students and faculty they deemed bigots will appeal their sentences.
The public list, called “Bigots of Puget Sound,” was discovered in November and included the names of 22 individuals labeled as “racist, sexist, misogynists, or transphobic.”
KING-5 reports that after a university investigation, students Akilah Blakey, Andres Chavez, and Lydia Gebrehiwot were notified that their suspensions were for “harassment, disrespectful behavior, and violating the Wheelock Student Center policies and procedures.”
If the suspensions stand, the trio would not be permitted back on campus until 2019.
The students won’t admit they actually created the list, but freely share their views on it. The school says it has video evidence of the three in possession of the list.
“I think the list itself it’s absolutely a form of activism,” Blakey said. “If the institution isn’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing to protect all of its students, well, something is going to happen if there is no other avenues to express all of the hate that’s going on campus. What do they expect?”
A spokesperson for the university said in order to protect student privacy, it cannot provide specifics about this incident.
However, UPS President Isiaah Crawford released a statement on the incident which read in part,
“As a community, we place a high value on freedom of speech. That freedom requires balance and does not extend to speech that violates our harassment policy, our integrity principle, and other policies that affirm the values of our community. These policies are in place to respect the rights, promote the dignity, and protect the safety of everyone on our campus.”
Also in response to the bigot list incident, university professors sent out an open letter acknowledging the “dehumanizing behaviors” spoken of on the list are “sadly present in our country and on our campus and have no place in our community. Even so, we cannot condone the accusation of members of our community without evidence and context.”
The professors’ letter also invokes (black, feminist and lesbian) poet Audre Lorde in its criticisms:
Let history be our guide here: secrecy and suspicion are the tools of oppressive structures and regimes. Rather than serve justice, such tools serve the holders of power by undermining community cohesion and instilling mistrust among family, friends, and neighbors, and ultimately serve as a means to reinforce ideological conformity through fear. Those who resist systems of oppression must also reject the tools of the oppressors, as Audre Lorde tells us. They must rely on different tools instead: they must build environments of openness and relationships of solidarity.
The accused students are due to submit their appeal tomorrow.