Daily Egyptian

Here’s how students, the community is reacting to Facebook video detailing on-campus racism

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

SIU freshman Leilani Bartlett posted a video to Facebook earlier this week chronicling a racially charged incident in Brown Hall, which has sparked conversation on Facebook and Twitter about race on campus. 

The video has received more than 100,000 views and hundreds of shares. Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell said in a statement that the university is investigating the incident.

Bartlett, who is from Chicago and studies business, said she was told to “go back to Africa” by white students who live in her dormitory.

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Here’s what people are saying on social media about the incident and her video.

“I sincerely apologize to all the student of color at these racist actions have been overlooked for far too long,” @_Tuff_Cookie tweeted after hearing the news. 

“White students are so racist it’s not even funny,” @BitchIfoundnemo tweeted. 

Ben Gruszczyk commented on the Daily Egyptian’s story about the video, saying the law requires equal treatment but not “manners or civility, or inclusive personal association.”

“I viewed Ms Bartlett’s video and found her to be sincere in her belief that she experienced racism,” he said. “Although compelling, her story did not include any evidence of any actionable offenses. It is probably true that the students Ms Bartlett encountered were rude. But, SIU is not a finishing school. A university education is no assurance that individual behavior will become high minded and sanguine. The law mandates equality. It does not mandate that we all love one another. I’m sorry for Ms Bartlett’s pain. I wish her success at SIU.” 

In response to another commenter, Ryan Fraley wrote, “The allegations bringing out the investigation is that there were racial epithets directed at the young lady in question. That goes above and beyond someone being offended because there are differing points of view.”

Others thanked Bartlett for having the courage to post the video. 

“This message needs to be heard and I support her 100%,” Emery Johnson-Miles wrote on Daily Egyptian’s Facebook post. “Anyone on campus can see this is true and anyone online can see this is true (see comments in this feed, Yik Yak, etc…). Hate and bigotry is alive and well. No one should have to feel unsafe or uncomfortable in their home or at their institution due to racism. Black lives matter.” 

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Jess Sea said she was glad Bartlett spoke up. Sarah Curtis called Bartlett “a hard worker, a good writer, and an engaged and open-minded student.”

“Leilani is a student of mine,” she wrote on Facebook. “She has strong feelings, especially here, but I know (from her careful and balanced writing and research) that her desire is to open discussion and debate, but in a way that doesn’t involve personal attacks or racist idiocy. Note that she doesn’t call for the suspension or expulsion of the students involved, but she does say *why* this is hurtful and scary. I would be scared too, if I came home and was yelled at and told I didn’t belong. This is isn’t a rally in a public campus space–it was *in* her dorm. Her private home. I’m not a proponent of the idea that college is a “safe space” where you’re insulated from ideas you don’t like, but Leilani has no problem critically discussing race, constitutional rights, and college expectations (I know this because we’ve discussed it in class, from multiple perspectives, and she was the first one to say that people shouldn’t be expelled for saying racist things, but that there should be a dialogue if offensive things are said), and she shouldn’t be verbally assaulted for her race when she goes home at night.”

What do you think about Bartlett’s video and racism on campus? Join the conversation with us on Facebook or Twitter

The Daily Egyptian’s campus desk can be reached at 618-536-3325 or [email protected].

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