Boschini addresses racial ‘ignorance’ at TCU

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A student who sent a video on Snapchat mocking black students who were dancing at last semester’s midnight pancake breakfast has been disciplined.

Because of privacy laws, university officials didn’t identify the student.

“The student is involved in educational sanctions, and we don’t talk in terms of punishment, but in development,” TCU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Kathy Cavins-Tull said. “The student will engage in activities that will help develop a broader understanding of culture and in living in a community.”

This photo has been edited to protect the identity of those in the photo.

The snap of a group of black students dancing at the event included the caption, “Why did the African tribal troup take over late night at the Bluu?”

Junior psychology major Sam Luke was one of the students pictured, wearing the red sweatshirt. He said the post made him question TCU’s core values.

“Seeing the state our country is in right now, it’s so divided, and we all pride ourselves on being Horned Frogs together, but the way it was worded made me question the values we have here at TCU,” Luke said. “We talk about inclusiveness, but the university has a lot to work on in that regard.”

TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini said he met with the student who made the post.

“It’s hard, but I think what you have to do is remember to take a deep breath, take a step back, and try not to always react in anger to everything because some people are just ignorant, and that’s what I think this person was,” Boschini said. “I also like to remind everybody that it’s just one person doing this, and the person who did this actually was very, very remorseful about it and felt very, very bad about it after it was pointed out to her. It doesn’t excuse what she did, but it does help a little bit in my opinion.”

Luke said part of the reason the snap upset him was because he was born in South Sudan.

“It really struck a nerve with me because it’s just ignorant and two, there’s just different African communities on campus at TCU,” Luke said. “It’s hurtful to group us together because there are a lot of different groups on campus and no African songs were being played. There was hip-hop music and the Frog Camp songs, all mainstream stuff.”

Boschini said college administrators across the country are more aware of students using social media to convey racially charged messages.

“I’d say nationally and locally it’s tense everywhere, maybe tense is too strong, there’s a heightened awareness about it, and I think that’s actually good,” Boschini said.

Last month, the University of Alabama expelled a student after she posted videos on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in which she was used of a racial slur. Wake Forest announced that a student is no longer enrolled after posting a video referring to her residential adviser with a racial slur.

Some have suggested that Alabama officials overstepped and violated the student’s First Amendment rights. While not commenting specifically on that case, Boschini said he falls “more on the side of free speech.”

“Everybody should have the right to say what they want until it reaches hate speech,” Boschini said. “Then when it reaches hate speech, we’re happy to discipline people, kick them off campus. We’ve done that in the past, and I think our record shows that we will not tolerate that.”

Yet, TCU has faced incidents like this before.

“It’s not the first time something like this has happened, which is why it was even more hurtful, especially after all the diversity committees and things like that have been set in place for minorities here,” junior communications major Maia Gunn said.

Two years ago, there was a Yik Yak incident regarding a pool party hosted by Kappa Alpha Psi, a predominantly African-American fraternity.

“They were throwing a pool party and they were called monkeys on Yik Yak, which was unfortunate,” junior strategic communication major Jon Villalobos said.

Both Luke and Gunn also brought up that event when thinking back on previous social media posts similar to the one that occurred at the midnight pancake breakfast.

“Yik Yak used to be a really big forum where people would be exposed to racism at TCU,” Gunn said. “There’s always little comments being made about when a group of minority students are together.”

Boschini said most of the instances could be categorized as ignorance.

“I think most of what we find is ignorance and stupidity, people not thinking before they speak and a lot of times if you get the groups of people, whatever the groups are, it’s really a lot more difficult to tell you something face to face than it is on the Internet,” Boschini said. “That helps, and I think it makes us realize we have a lot more in common than not.”

He said the topic this snap invokes is not one easily dealt with.

“Just in general that none of these issues are easy, and I think everybody needs to make a real concerted effort to work on them and to have a good heart about them,” Boschini said. “Now, does that mean some people don’t have a good heart about this, absolutely, I recognize that, and those are the kind of people we don’t want part of our community.”