Imagine that. I go from not blogging for over a year to blogging twice in one day. Lots of things to talk about today, apparently.
I became aware of this video when a colleague of mine from my undergrad days posted about it on Facebook just a few minutes before I started writing this. You should be able to tell whether you want to view the video in full or not by the snapshot on the video:
Pretty disgusting, right? Kinda makes you wonder where to begin with all of this, right? My criticism begins and ends with one group of people: university administration.
This is not the first time that something like this has happened at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In one case, the students were “reprimanded”…..with a stern (VERY STERN) letter to the student body. In the other case, the outcome is unclear. The last time I wrote about racism on a college campus, someone had spraypainted “Nigger” on a statue in front of a dorm hall at the University of Missouri. While he left the school, there is not any evidence that he was expelled. He was recently given probation because of the incident, as well as 100 hours of community service. The only reason that he received the punishment that he did was because the Boone County Sheriff’s Office decided to prosecute the incident as a hate crime. Oh, and the “One Mizzou” campaign that was supposed to fight against racism at the University of Missouri? Well…..that is now this:
The connection between these three incidents are clear: the university did very little to punish those responsible. Here is UMD’s statement in the wake of this video coming to light:
“We take appropriate action in instances like this… we can affirm our disapproval of the video, and reaffirm our goal of providing an environment where students live, study, and learn from and about each other in an inclusive and supportive way. We hope that out of this distressing incident will at least come some broader understanding and personal growth.”
Is there anything in that statement that suggests that punitive action will be taken? I thought not. In fact, given that UMD has dropped out of the UnFair Campaign, a community campaign that sought to bring attention to the negative manifestations of white privilege in our society, I would be surprised if anything happens to either of these students. And that is sad.
What will it take for universities to take racism seriously? Will it take a racially motivated beating? Rape? Murder? We should have a safe learning environment for everyone, and it is the responsibility of those who run our nation’s universities to ensure that this is the case. Moving towards that begins with punishing the people responsible for the racially charged incidents on college campuses. Once we have gotten the disciplinary apparatus down, then we can talk about broader initiatives to eliminate racism in higher education.
But it starts with showing students that racism and bigotry of any kind will not be tolerated on our college campuses. Not now, not ever.