Students discuss racially charged tweets

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Black Student Union

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Students from several cultural groups came together during an open forum Tuesday night in the Union to discuss the next step in response to the racially charged tweets.

Because the Black Student Union was not the only group affected by the tweets, no student organization sponsored the forum, but instead it was ran solely by students.

“We aren’t sure what the next step is from here, which is why we want student input,” said Kevin Lewis, BSU president. “It’s not our decision to make for everyone.”

Around 200 students came to the open forum and shared personal experiences about dealing with racism. For those who didn’t feel comfortable enough to say something, a suggestion box was offered for ideas on what to do next.

Senior Greg Gantt suggested a silent march when the administration get off work in order to push for change.

“We are signing petitions and educating others, but I don’t think we are really getting to the right people,” Gantt said. “We are told to let these things go. People tell us ‘it’s just another tweet,’ but that shouldn’t be the case.”

The Department of Public Safety is currently consulting with prosecutors to see if the racially charged tweets targeted at BSU are considered criminal.

The tweets, sent from Twitter handle @PatFalcon, were sent around 12 a.m. Monday and suggested the group is prejudice against white people.

The University administration should soon know who is behind the account and whether or not it is a student, said Michael Ginsburg, associate dean of Students.

“There is a delicate line between freedom of speech and a crime,” said Monica Moll, director of public safety.

Because the campus police investigates both violations of the law and code of conduct violations at the University, there will be a way to figure out who the person is and how to punish them regardless of the prosecutor’s decision.

“We can always try other things such as issuing an incident report if it isn’t considered criminal, which will [still get them in trouble] with the University,” Moll said.

If the tweets are considered criminal, a subpoena will be issued where the tweets will be presented to the court in order to find out who sent the tweets, she said.

It will take a few weeks for the subpoena to be processed before they will find out who was tweeting, Moll said.

While the white male in the photo of the Twitter account is still unidentified as a student, Moll said the tweets are “inexcusable and disrespectful.”

Prosecutors will be informing the police department sometime Wednesday what their decision is.

“We have been reading over the tweets and working on this all [Monday],” Moll said.

Other student responses during Tuesday night’s forum suggested there wasn’t enough education on multicultural issues and that there are ways to obtain a diversity credit without taking a class about specific minorities.

Education wasn’t the only issue students discussed. They also brought up how there needs to be a change of culture, policy and mind set of how these issues shouldn’t be a norm.

“We need to change and work together as one if we want to be remembered at this University,” Lewis said. “It all starts with us and now.”

The administration brought the police department into the situation because they were not sure if it was a crime that needed to be pursued.

“I am absolutely disappointed that this has happened,” Ginsburg said. “We needed to take action and push Not In Our Town.”

Not in Our Town is a campaign started this past spring to promote diversity and fight intolerance. The campaign began after several students tweeted racially charged messages directed at the black community.

“It just reinforces what we learned from last year,” said Dalton Jones, adviser of BSU. “We clearly have a lot more work to do that is going to require more than just words from the administration.”

Even though this was the next step in response to the tweets and how the University is acting, this won’t be the last.

“This is the just the start,” Lewis said.