NDSU responds to outrage over racist Snapchat group

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 10:16 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A racist Snapchat group involving students from NDSU was exposed on social media this week, which prompted dozens to demand action and change on campus.

In a screenshot from the Snapchat, one member wrote, ‘We’re not racist, we just prefer white people.’

“I shouldn’t have to be sitting here in 2020, almost 2021 begging for respect based on the color of my skin, but here at NDSU you have to,” NDSU senior Aeshia Williams said.

Campus officials say those involved have already been investigated and punished weeks ago. NDSU Dean of Students, Casey Peterson says the incident was brought to his attention back on Nov. 2.

“I’m not sure who didn’t think we had done nothing with it, but that’s the way it’s been portrayed, but it was actually all addressed within 48 hours,” Peterson said.

Per NDSU policy, Peterson is not allowed to detail the consequences for those involved, but says incidents like this are dealt with on a case by case basis. He says punishments can vary from an educational conversation, probation, suspension, and rarely expulsion depending on the policy and the severity of the violation.

“Several of (the members) have reached out to other people on campus looking for ways to apologize,” Peterson said.

“Who heard the apology? I didn’t get an apology! Neither did any of the black students on this campus,” Williams said.

In an apparent conversation screenshotted and posted by the Fargo ‘Black Lives Matter’ Instagram page, one of the members of the group in question says while the chat’s name and things said in the chat were immature, they were simply just jokes.

“It wasn’t a joke for my grandma, it was not a joke for my mother, it wasn’t a joke for my dad and it’s not a joke for me because that’s a word that was used when my people were being killed, murdered and many other evil acts. There’s nothing to joke about with it,” Williams said.

Williams says she’s not satisfied with NDSU’s response nor the punishment those in the group chat received, as she thinks they should be expelled and have the incident noted in their transcripts.

“I say that because when there are people who are using that word lightly in a joking matter, who knows what else they think is a joke. Is it a joke to put a burning cross in front of my building? Is that a joke too?”

Williams says it’s time for black students to finally be respected and valued on NDSU’s campus, which she says needs to start with campus leaders denouncing and punishing racist actions. She says otherwise, NDSU is only creating an uncomfortable and unsafe space for people of color.

In an email to NDSU students late Tuesday night, officials say racist language is ‘abhorrent’ and ‘is not welcome at NDSU. Although often legally protected, racis language is not consistent with our values.’

Williams says the email is not good enough, as NDSU officials did not say racist speech and actions are intolerable.

“Many people say ‘this isn’t welcome’ and ‘that’s not welcome,’ but they have yet to say that it’s not tolerated. Just because you’re not welcome somewhere does not mean that you cannot still go or that you cannot still take part of that action. It’s all about what’s the reaction once it’s there, regardless of how welcome it is or not,” Williams said.

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