Augustana College, a private school in Illinois, gave the appearance of caving into a small band of activists when it banned the anonymous social media app Yik Yak from the campus Wi-Fi network last week.
The Quad City Times reports that the school claims it was already planning to ban the app, which sometimes includes racist and sexist language, following earlier complaints – but that’s not how it looks.
The Black Student Union’s adviser, who also serves as associate dean of student services, called the move “perfect timing” following the list of demands from a group of 35 student who admit they don’t represent “every black person or person of color on this campus.”
Among their demands:
- Add Yik Yak to the Augustana internet firewall
- Introduce harsher penalties for students who commit racial harassment or use threatening actions and language
- Hire more racially diverse professors in all departments to better reflect the student body
- Begin a tenure track line or, at least, a professional faculty line for the Africana Studies program
- Introduce a Privilege Summit as a mandatory event, penalizing students who do not attend
- Encourage faculty to expand and update curriculum to include more racially diverse material
- Recommend that all courses must (a) include at least one item on the syllabus authored by, created by, or focusing on a person of color that (b) will be discussed in class. This is particularly relevant in the Humanities and Social Sciences; we understand this is difficult in STEM fields, but we still encourage these departments to make this effort.
The Black Student Union, Student Government Association, Greek Council and Multicultural Club Council had already “brought the controversial [Yik Yak] posts to the attention of the administration,” the Times said.
It’s not clear how many offensive comments went up on Augustana’s Yik Yak feed before students protested. The Times only says there were “numerous anonymous messages termed ‘racist’ on the local page.”
The dean of students curiously described the list of demands as “suggestions” or “questions,” despite the list itself saying: “Improvements and advancements must occur by the beginning of the next academic school year.”
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