A video of an incoming TCU student using racist language has gained public attention, continuing a trend occurring at universities across the country.
The video, taken years ago but published on social media over the weekend, shows Michael Kunka saying the N-word while watching the TV show “Supernatural.”
TCU responded on Twitter and released a statement in an email, calling Kunka’s speech “appalling.” TCU said the university cannot disclose student record information or disciplinary action, as this would violate the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA), but the video had been given to the Offices of Admission and Campus Life.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. These actions do not represent the values that TCU upholds. We have shared this video with the appropriate staff members.— TCU (@TCU) July 26, 2020
TCU’s response to the video of Kunka.
“TCU is committed to creating a respectful and inclusive environment for all community members and is actively implementing diversity, equity and inclusion strategies,” according to the statement.
After the video was shared, Kunka posted an apology.
“By now you have seen the video of me using inappropriate language when I was 14 or 15 years old,” Kunka wrote in the Twitter apology. “I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I was a stupid young kid; and that’s not who I am today; but I understand that my words were harmful.”
Kunka may be the most recent in a series of students receiving criticism for racist statements posted on social media, but TCU has dealt with this type of situation in the past.
For example, in 2015, TCU suspended then-sophomore Harry Vincent for writing racist tweets related to the Baltimore riots following the death of Freddie Gray, the impact of terrorism and the Islamic State.
Days later, TCU lifted the suspension, but Vincent was still required to complete 60 hours of community service, take a diversity class and remain on disciplinary probation for one year.
Public discussion of the unacceptability of racist speech and universities’ responses to it is happening at institutions across the country.
In June, Temple University announced it had received “hundreds of messages expressing anger and disappointment at racist comments on social media from incoming and current students and the university’s response to those comments.”
The university said the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students would meet with all students who published the racist comments, relying on the Student Code of Conduct to hold them accountable.
TCU received pushback in response to the video, including from the Coalition for University Justice and Equity (CUJE), which released a list of demands in February. Over the weekend, CUJE sent an email to Chancellor Victor Boschini and other top administration officials, asking how TCU would respond to Kunka’s racist language.
Subject: Hate Speech: Michael Kunka, TCU ‘24— CUJE (@cujenow) July 26, 2020
To: Chancellor Boschini, Vice Chancellor Kathryn Cavins-Tull, Provost Teresa Dahlberg, Dean of Admission Heath Einstein pic.twitter.com/oJCEqi7DzL
A screenshot of CUJE’s email to Chancellor Victor Boschini, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Kathy Cavins-Tull, Provost Teresa Dahlberg and Heath Einstein, the dean of admissions.
“We believe that this is the best time to showcase your stance of demand 7, to your student body and especially to the historically marginalized students on your campus,” CUJE said in the email.
Demand 7 asks TCU to implement a no-tolerance policy on hate speech and propaganda.
Other universities have cut ties to admitted students who use this kind of language. Xavier University and Marquette University, for example, rescinded the admission and athletic offers of incoming students who made racist comments on social media.