CLOSE

Merriam-Webster is updating its definition of racism after it was pointed out that theirs was overly simplified. Buzz60

LINKEDINMORE

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A cheerleader who used a racial slur on Twitter was removed from her college’s spirit squad and won’t attend the school. Screenshots of a Snapchat post about the death of George Floyd cost a lacrosse player her admission to a private university. Two more students withdrew from their state school after a similar Twitter thread showed them using a racial slur.

On college campuses across the U.S., students are being haunted by their online posts. As rallies for Black Lives Matter and protests against police discrimination continue, institutions are investigating incidents of hate and bias that crop up in students’ social media posts, videos and messages.

A couple of recent incidents at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville help illustrate how some colleges investigate accusations of bias and racism.

A day after a Twitter thread showing a UT student using a racial slur began drawing attention, the university announced the student would not be on the cheer team and would not be attending UT in the fall. 

Three days later, Bias Education and Referral Team determine how to handle moving forward with the reported incident. 

"Team members will review incident reports and meet with affected students to facilitate services such as counseling, health services, or other referrals as needed to address safety concerns and to provide assistance and comfort to those impacted," UT spokesman Owen Driskill said in an email. 

The university defines bias as "any act that is motivated, in whole or in part, due to an individual’s age, race, ethnicity, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, national origin, veteran status, religion and/or religious practice, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, weight, political affiliation, medical condition, or mental health."

Bias-related incidents the university looks at include vandalism, racially motivated acts, including racially-themed parties or using a racial or ethnic slur, including jokes, and threats or harassment. 

To investigate reported bias incidents, UT says it collects information and meets with affected students. From there, the university develops a plan to address the incident, provide support services and refer students to various offices on campus, including the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. 

The UT Knoxville Code of Conduct also outlines an investigation process, which involves a hearing and can result in interim suspension, campus restrictions or being expelled, depending on the outcome of the investigation.

While recent events have created a heightened sensitivity to such incidents, they aren't anything new. Last year, for example, a survivor of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, saw his admission to Harvard rescinded in connection to racist comments he made in high school.

In 2016, Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, removed a student after he posted on social media a racial slur and a threat of violence to describe Black NFL players. 

At the time, the university investigated the post and confirmed "the person involved is no longer a student at Belmont."

First Amendment controversy: A North Carolina professor who sparked outrage with his tweets still has his job. Here's why.

"We reject comments rooted in racism or bigotry. This is not free speech – this is hate speech," the university said at the time. "As a Christian institution, it is our goal to build a diverse and inclusive community where all members feel accepted, safe and valued."

The investigative process at Marquette University is similar to UT's, with a team that works to gather information and create a report that may be sent to other offices on campus.   

That incident involved an internal review with the Division of Student Affairs, Undergraduate Admissions, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion and athletics, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. 

Part of the university's guiding values includes working to "nurture an inclusive, diverse community that fosters new opportunities, partnerships, collaboration and vigorous yet respectful debate."

"As a Catholic, Jesuit institution, we are called to build a nurturing, inclusive community where all people feel safe, supported, welcomed and celebrated," a Marquette spokeswoman told the Journal Sentinel.

Wenei Philimon of USA TODAY contributed to this report.

LINKEDINMORE
Read or Share this story: /story/news/education/2020/06/23/college-racist-twitter-snapchat-posts-university-of-tennessee/3200933001/