You can tolerate racism as long as it serves a larger purpose?

College Fix readers may remember we featured an Ohio University student-run parody show that made fake Twitter accounts for each campaign in student elections.

One of the presidential candidates, Ryant Taylor, had complained on the parodists’ Facebook page that they hadn’t asked for permission.

Now Taylor’s own campaign page on Facebook has come under fire for allowing racist pictures to remain up for several days, and marginalizing the critic who pointed them out.

Kyle Serrott, the “lone male worker” in the campus Women’s Center, writes in The New Political why he can no longer support the BARE ticket, which includes Taylor, a member of the Student Union.

It has to do with a rally Taylor helped organize against the school’s leasing of a new residence for President Roderick McDavis, who along with his wife is black. Taylor helped administer the rally’s Facebook page:

However, the page was quickly hijacked by members outside of the Student Union with memes that portrayed President McDavis in an extremely racialized manner. These photos played on the historical themes of animalizing Black men, sexualizing Black men, and criminalizing Black men. While these photos were extremely problematic, they garnered many “likes” and comments from several members of the Student Union, staff members of OU and even faculty members/professors.

I was shocked to see that these photos were not only allowed to remain on the page through the weekend leading up to the BAT RALLY, but encouraged other photos to be placed, including one which placed Deborah McDavis riding an elephant, playing up numerous tropes that connects Blacks with Africa and serves to animalize Black people.

The Student Union, which is all about “ending institutionalized racism, sexism, trans-phobia, [and] homophobia,” responded harshly to Serrott’s public criticism on Facebook, Serrott said.

Taylor allegedly told Serrott that he was “conflicted with the images himself, but ultimately decided not to do anything about it”:

He went on to tell me that he would have preferred that I sent him or another event organizer a private Facebook message instead of “causing drama” on the page.

Another administrator, Jessica Ensley – previously featured by The Fix for her demand that the school ban Yik Yak for its “misogyny, racism and bullying” – echoed Taylor:

She expressed to me in her message that she also thought that the photos were racist, including the one she posted depicting Deborah McDavis riding an elephant. Despite her unease with how the photo portrays racist tropes, she expressed to me that she posted it anyway and did not publically call out racism on the page because she “didn’t want to take away from the message of the rally.”

Serrott claims his post that “stirred drama” was deleted from the Facebook page and that the racist photos were only removed “several days after” he called them out:

I am fully convinced that had I not said anything publically, the photos would not have been removed and no such statement about not condoning racism would have been issued.

What is even more problematic is that Ryant was willing to allow racism in order to further the cause of his own belief. This is unacceptable behavior and rhetoric for a potential future leader of Student Senate. Ryant, and those on the ticket who are also members of the Student Union, must be held accountable for their actions.

Man, student elections are fun!

Read the letter.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Ben Siegel/Ohio University

Giving University of Oklahoma President David Boren a run for his money, Bucknell University President John Bravman summarily expelled three students for using racially offensive language on their campus radio show, as The College Fix reported.

Bravman has suggested more students could get in trouble simply for being in the room, according to The Bucknellian.

Students at the Pennsylvania school have voiced their outrage over the broadcast, with one telling the paper: “The lack of color on this campus has not only become overwhelming, it has become uncomfortable. It has become unsafe.”

Now the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is demanding Bucknell turn over the transcript from the radio show so those remarks can be seen in context.

In a letter to Bravman Tuesday, FIRE Policy Research Director Samantha Harris cast strong doubt that immediate expulsion was necessary for “the physical safety” of the campus:

The university must be fully transparent about the circumstances under which it invokes this [safety and well-being] clause, so that Bucknell students have the opportunity to understand what types of behaviors might lead to their summary expulsion from the university.

Unfortunately, Bucknell’s actions in this case have not been transparent at all. The university has not released the radio broadcast or its transcript. Rather, the university has provided the media with a few words from the broadcast and has asked the public to simply trust that these words alone merited immediate expulsion. Indeed, Bucknell spokesman Andy Hirsch told the Associated Press that “the context doesn’t really matter once you see what was said.”

However, unless Bucknell is prepared to state that its students have no free speech or due process rights and can be summarily expelled for engaging in what would, off campus, be constitutionally protected speech, context absolutely does matter. It is only context that can tell us whether words and phrases such as “black people should be dead” and “lynch ‘em” constituted an actual threat against the lives of African-American students or constituted, for example, a satirical reference to the recent actions of fraternity brothers at the University of Oklahoma.

Read the letter to Bravman and the Bucknellian‘s coverage.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter


University: ‘While our intent was to show a film, the impact of the content was harmful, and made students feel unsafe and unwelcome at our program’

A scheduled movie screening of “American Sniper” at the University of Michigan was abruptly cancelled Tuesday after nearly 300 students and others complained the film perpetuates “negative and misleading stereotypes” against Muslims.

“The movie American Sniper not only tolerates but promotes anti-Muslim … rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer,” according to an online letter circulated among the campus community via Google Docs that garnered the signatures.

The signers were mostly students, but also some staff, as well as the Muslim Students’ Association and the president of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, a Palestinian solidarity group at UMich.

The online memo, titled a “collective letter from Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) and Muslim students on campus,” accused the public university of “tolerating dangerous anti-Muslim and anti-MENA propaganda” by showing the movie, the highest grossing film of 2014.

It follows U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who served four combat tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medals, and one Navy and Marine Corps commendation, according to his official Facebook page. But the protestors see him differently.

“Chris Kyle was a racist who took a disturbing stance on murdering Iraqi civilians,” the collective letter stated. “Middle Eastern characters in the film are not lent an ounce of humanity and watching this movie is provocative and unsafe to MENA and Muslim CollectiveLetter students who are too often reminded of how little the media and world values their lives.  … The University of Michigan should not participate in further perpetuating these negative and misleading stereotypes.”

The film was set to be shown Friday on campus, but the letter – which asked for its cancellation – was successful.

“While our intent was to show a film, the impact of the content was harmful, and made students feel unsafe and unwelcomed at our program,” stated The Center for Campus Involvement, which oversees student activities and is run by university employees, as it announced its decision Tuesday on its various social media accounts, including Twitter and Facebook.

“We deeply regret causing harm to members of our community, and appreciate the thoughtful feedback provided to us by students and staff alike.”

(Above right: image of collective letter; not all signatories shown)

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald confirmed to The College Fix on Tuesday the movie was cancelled.

“The Center for Campus Involvement … did hear concerns from students,” Fitzgerald said, noting he did not have further details at the time.

The Center for Campus Involvement did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment, but its official Twitter account noted “Paddington Bear,” a PG-rated movie about a stuffed animal’s misadventures, will be shown instead of “American Sniper.”PaddingtonTweet

“We have elected to pull the film from this week’s program and screen another movie in its place that we believe better creates the fun, engaging atmosphere we seek, without excluding valued members of our community,” the center stated.

But not all students agree with this decision.

“It would be nice to see the university … take a stand against outrageous claims of ‘student exclusion,'” University of Michigan sophomore Jason Weaver told The College Fix. “The film American Sniper in no way creates student exclusion any more than Saving Private Ryan. Both show American soldiers at war, the atrocities of war, and the costs of war, yet I’m sure Saving Private Ryan would not illicit the same response. Just because the enemy in American Sniper shares ethnicity with students on campus does not mean they are conflated as the enemy any more than a German student should be conflated with Nazism.”

“American Sniper” was set to be shown as part of the center’s “UMix Late Night” program, which brings movies, games, dances and other social events to the student body. The center is responsible for more than 300 co-curricular programs each year, including cultural and educational programs, films, art exhibits, UMix Late Night, athletic/spirit activities and various performance groups and concerts, its website states.

“We in the Center for Campus Involvement and the UMix Late Night program did not intend to exclude any students or communities on campus through showing this film,” the center’s announcement stated.

“… UMix should always be a safe space for students to engage, unwind, and create community with others, and we commit to listening to and learning from our community in the interest of fostering that environment. … We will take time to deeper understand and screen for content that can negatively stereotype a group.”

College Fix reporter Derek Draplin is a student at the University of Michigan.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

RELATED: Muslim student leader protests campus screening of ‘American Sniper’

(See UPDATE below)

At the press conference following the University of Kentucky’s perfect season-ruining loss to Wisconsin last night, UK point guard Andrew Harrison was heard referring to UW player Frank Kaminsky with a racial slur.

The question remains whether Harrison will face any official repercussions for the racist comment (UW’s Kaminsky is white.)

Language warning:

This past week we’ve seen Duke University and the University of South Carolina waste no haste in dealing with their own racially intolerant acts.

At the former, the student who admitted to hanging a noose on a tree is no longer on campus and awaits not only punishment from the school, but possibly from the state and federal government.

At the latter, a female student was suspended for scribbling a racist term on a study room whiteboard.

At both colleges, the administration reaction was emphatic: zero tolerance for racism.

Not to mention, hundreds of students showed up for an anti-racism demonstration following the Duke incident.

Thus far, there has been no official response from the University of Kentucky.

UPDATE: Harrison has since apologized and the university will take no disciplinary action until it “has had a chance to evaluate” the situation.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Katie/Flickr

News flash to campus administrators: You can give boneheads a fair hearing before meting out the most severe punishment against them without losing your moral authority.

Bucknell University in Pennsylvania apparently thinks the University of Oklahoma is a good role model for due process: It expelled three students for horribly offensive speech on a campus radio show without even giving them a hearing.

The Student Press Law Center reports:

[University President John] Bravman sent an email to faculty on Monday about the expulsion, which included the students’ comments. When one student said “niggers,” a second student said “black people should be dead,” and the third student said “lynch ‘em.”

[University spokesman Andy] Hirsch said the three students failed “to act in a manner that reflects maturity, social responsibility and respect toward the person and property of others,” which is a violation of the student code of conduct. The students were expelled under administrative action, which allows university administrators to take action against a student without a formal disciplinary hearing if the student proves a threat to the well-being of the university community.

What the hell kind of Orwellian language is that? Here’s more:

“When we’re talking about comments and speech that involve hate speech that’s interfering with the rights of others,” Hirsch said, “then we’re left with no choice but to take appropriate action, and that’s what we did.”

Here’s the relevant section of the student code in context:

i. Engaging in conduct that threatens the health or well-being of another.

ii. Sexual misconduct or relationship violence. Violations of the University’s Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence policy (see pg 20) are subject to disposition according to that policy.

iii. Physical abuse, injury, constraint on another’s physical movement, or threat of harm toward another person.

iv. Harassment, which includes engaging in conduct that, in the view of a reasonable person, has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating or hostile educational, work, or living environment.

Bucknell is a red-light university for its speech codes under the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s analysis, by the way.

As disgusting as those students’ remarks were, and stupid as they were to broadcast, they weren’t directed toward anyone in particular and are almost comically overbroad – the kind of thing that immature students (or drunks at a bar) would say, just for the offensiveness of it, with no larger purpose.

Had the school decided to give them a hearing, perhaps the students could have explained it was just incredibly poor judgment, not actual intentions to kill black people. Their comments don’t sound like anything you wouldn’t hear in a typical game of Cards Against Humanity (whose creators know how to buy themselves great PR).

I don’t know if President Bravman is a player himself, but I bet if you mic’d him up during a good ol’ boy poker game with whiskey and cigars, he’d be bribing you to destroy that recording.

Or just expel you for threatening the community’s well-being.

Greg Piper is an assistant editor at The College Fix. (@GregPiper)

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Phil Denton/Flickr

While conceding that it’s nice that Apple’s coming set of multicultural emojis will reflect their ethnicity, some minority students are already saying the new emojis will be offensive or still leave them feeling unrepresented digitally.

The University of Georgia’s Red & Black reports on its multicultural student groups and members:

[Hispanic lesbian women’s studies major Maria] Matta said some of the emojis could create stereotypes, such as the flamenco dancer in a red dress that has been an Apple emoji staple and will now have skin color options.

“I don’t know if she’s supposed to be Latina, but she’s in the dancing pose and I’m like ‘What is she supposed to be?’” Matta said. “She definitely creates stereotypes. Just because you’re Latina, you’re a dancer? That’s not how that works. I know plenty of Latinas that don’t know how to dance.”

The new emojis are still showing too much pixel skin, according to this student:

Yusra Aurangzeb, a senior psychology and cognitive science major from Pakistan and president of the Muslim Students Association, said she wishes often that there was a woman in a hijab, a headscarf that Muslim women use to cover their hair, as well as the turban-wearing man.

“I would love it if they had a hijab,” she said of the need for representation of female figures.

One of her fellow members thinks it’s cool, though:

Jasim Mohammed, a sophomore biology and psychology major from India and treasurer of the UGA Muslim Students Association, said he likes the Arabic-looking emoji with a turban, and he said he hasn’t thought about the way it could perpetuate stereotypes.

“I use the turban guy all the time, and I don’t think it’s racist. But maybe I’m desensitized,” Mohammed said. “I don’t think it’s important per se that there be emojis that include all races, but it’s nice to have more options.”

Read the story.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Scott Beale/Flickr