Daily Egyptian

Students plan to work with administration on racism response video

By Anna Spoerre, @AnnaSpoerre

Students met with an administrator Monday morning to plan a reaction to a racist YouTube video posted last week that called for lynchings at SIU, concluding that an immediate response must be made by the campus community.

The video, which uses the N-word and encourages violence against black students, was made from the YouTube account “ATO AZO,” but the president of SIU’s Alpha Tau Omega said they did not create the video, something SIU administrators were also fairly sure of on Monday. 

MORE: ATO denies making racist video that calls for lynchings at SIU

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“Whoever this is needs to be confronted,” student trust candidate Naomi Tolbert said during the meeting with Lori Stettler, vice chancellor for student affairs.

Stettler said the university has been investigating the fraternity and is working to track down the video’s creator. She went on to say the person or persons involved will be held accountable, but did not say how specifically.

“It is a violation on multiple levels with our student code of conduct and we are not going to tolerate this,” she said.  

Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell sent out an email Sunday addressing the video and urged students to “stand together as Salukis to fight intolerance.”

MORE: Administrators worked with YouTube to take down racist video, classes still on for May 2, chancellor says 

The video, which received more than 3,000 views, was taken down Monday afternoon for violating YouTube’s policy on hate speech.

Joshua Dawson, a graduate student in workforce education and development from Chicago, said he is tired of only receiving emails from the chancellor in response to recent racist events on campus.

He said he helped plan the discussion — attended by 15 students — because, as a black student, he does not feel safe on campus.

“It’s beyond the organizations. … The biggest thing that we have right here is racial tensions,” said Tolbert, a junior from Carbondale studying political science and international studies. “Outright racial tensions are boiling over.”

MORE: Here’s how the Internet is reacting to racist YouTube video

The students decided to work with the university to create a response video — hoping to include administrators, Greek leaders, housing representatives and members of minority groups on campus. Stettler brought with her a university videographer to assist in the production of the piece.

They are hoping to release the video before May 2, the date of planned protests against student loan debt.

The students also suggested implementing mandatory diversity training to take place at the beginning of the year — similar to the sexual assault training required every fall, noting that many students have not previously been exposed to as much diversity as the Carbondale campus.

“[They should] be trained on what it means to be a minority, to be a marginalized group on campus,” Tolbert said.

A series of open discussion forums where students can speak openly about grievances was also discussed.

The students said they want to use the video to spread the message the message: “This is SIU and we’re here to say this isn’t OK.”

“We need to show, as a community on campus, that we will not stand for any of this nonsense,” Tolbert said. 

Anna Spoerre can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.

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