Black fraternities and charities at Arkansas State University were targeted in racist online attacks this week — but students say the posts are just part of a problem much larger theme on campus.
“On behalf of the entire Arkansas State University community, I condemn the recent statements made by anonymous individuals,” Prime Minister Kelly Damphousse wrote in a statement released Thursday. “Language and labels used by people who post about weekly [National Pan-Hellenic Council] events on campus are simply unacceptable and disgraceful. … The kind of statement made recently regarding Black students and members of the NPHC is shameful and unwelcome at Arkansas State University. ”
KAIT 8 ABC reports that anonymous messages were posted Wednesday night to social media platform Yik Yak, which serves as a community discussion page for users within a 5-mile radius. The posts are said to target nine Pan-National Greek Council Greek organizations, which have historically revolved around the culture of the African diaspora. According to the Arkansas State University NPHC chapter, statements were issued telling Black students to “get back on the boat” and that “Black is a disease.”
Arkansas State University Communications Director Bill Smith told The Daily Beast: “Whoever makes these comments are other people.
In a statement posted to Instagram, the NPHC’s undergraduate chapter condemned “hostility” and “contempt” towards Black students.
The NPHC posted on their Instagram page: “Not only is it shameful and discouraging to see our colleagues use an anonymous app to shame and belittle us, but it is also mockery. tradition and history behind our organization”. “For too long, minority students have not been able to feel comfortable on their university campus[es], and here is a good example. As a student body, we must show solidarity and understanding to EVERY student — regardless of their race or ethnicity. ”
The post ended by calling on all students to work together and specifically calling on white students to unite with their colored peers.
“It’s disappointing to see things like this happen,” one student wrote under the post. “They weren’t random people but the students we sat next to … in the classroom.”
“Extremely disappointed by the obvious trolling and racist slurs displayed by one person or one individual on the internet,” another student commented. “I know this doesn’t reflect the full range of Arkansas State University values, but I appreciate Black organizations coming together to discuss the racism and hardship we face while at school. [predominantly white institution]. ”
As reported by GuardiansYik Yak has previously been criticized for being irresponsible to its user base.
“Infamous in the past for anonymous bullying and harassment, this social media platform hit universities across the US last year with similarly horrific and irresponsible results.” like the previous version,” Chancellor Damphousse wrote in his statement. “When screenshots of comments are posted elsewhere, we want to remind people of the irrevocable cyberbullying behavior that the platform encourages.”
The social media site did not immediately return The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Friday.
Smith said the anonymous nature of the platform can be frustrating and confusing, especially when officials are trying to figure out who made the posts.
“Yik Yak is… an anonymous app with anonymous owners. And it’s based on geography. So you can only see [posts] Smith said. “So you can see it’s a pretty fertile ground for these kinds of derogatory comments… and you don’t have to be a high school or college student or a member of that community. You can just drive through it and make that comment. Now, a lot of students use it to chat and share their opinions. Unfortunately, sometimes those opinions go too far.”
But students say racism in college isn’t simply about being excluded from online forums.
“This is not the first time an incident like this has happened at this university,” one student-athlete posted on Instagram. “It got caught under the rug, but I suppose[d] Go back and recruit other African-Americans to this college and lie to their faces and tell them they’re not just some other diversity here? Which university is interested in them? “
In a shocking display of racism, a Black student at Arkansas State University was interrupted during an interview with KAIT 8 ABC on Thursday when students shouted “white power” when they drive past.
Student Orion Hulsey told the news agency after the incident, “Those are the things that frustrate me. “No one should walk around their college campus and hear that.”
Smith said the student body survived despite the racism. After Yik Yak’s messages were widely publicized, the NPHC organized another rally held to show pride and support for Black students.
“It was well received. … I do not want to speak for our students of color because, as a white employee, I cannot speak for them. But I have a feeling that it was a pivotal moment,” he said. “There is a lot of support from other students, students [who] not a student of color. They did their best to make it clear that they are welcome and that they are loved and that they are part of our A-State community. “
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