1.21.19 Weather Photo story

The sun sets above Tiger Stadium on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019.

On August 31, several University freshmen were attacked with racially charged and xenophobic comments in the student section of the first football game of the year. What is usually an exciting event for University freshmen turned into a humiliating and unwelcoming ordeal, a huge contrast from the event-filled welcome week the University orchestrates for freshmen every year.

According to the affected freshmen, political science sophomore Foxworth Vidrine yelled at them to “Get the f**k out” of the student section repeatedly, using the derogatory term “ching chongs,” a racial epithet used to mock people of Asian descent.

One of the freshmen took to Twitter to ask for help identifying the previously unknown student. Doing so, the Tweet went viral, gaining over 55,000 likes, 30,000 retweets and 30,000 replies. It also successfully put the University in the public spotlight for one of its many controversies. It also follows the wake of a University scandal regarding an athlete’s racist social media post.

The responses to the football game event were mixed, but they shouldn’t have been. Racism has no place in modern society and especially less in a setting where these girls were supposed to have the time of their lives.

There is no way to justify these words. If you’re defending this bigot, I implore you to examine your own view of the event and why it is colored in favor of anyone other than the victims of this incident.

We hate the word privilege, but to ask why these women didn’t do anything in the face of blatant racism and xenophobia is the definition of it. If this person was brazen enough to say this in front of the entire student section in broad daylight, those girls weren’t only at risk of hearing his dreadful waste of the English language.

In situations like these, many often question why it had to be brought to be social media. Why ruin his life?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t believe that racists or their beliefs should be welcomed in society, nor should they be protected. Social media is this generation’s word of mouth, and it did something, rather than the University, which has done nothing but prove where its loyalty lies.

The University has repeatedly refused to condemn perpetrators of racism, sexual assault or anything negative on this campus. I wouldn’t say it’s sweeping under the rug, but it’s usually a mere acknowledgment of what happened. It seems their chosen strategy is to bide their time and wait for the next storm to hit social media. Students are not asking anyone to take a firm stance against these beliefs that have no place on this campus for the public, but for us. It is not to appease them, but to reassure us that the University we call home has our back.

The University is a predominantly white institution, something I, as a minority student, knew when I made my choice. However, I did not make this choice thinking the University would protect the ideals that led to them barring minorities from the institution until the 1950s.

It’s even evident every time I walk past Middleton Library, a University building named after a known racist.

It is not enough to have it in the Student Code of Conduct, in the handbook. It is not enough to have diversity initiatives and offices if you’re still going to ignore the very events these preventative techniques were created to eliminate. Instead of disciplining the individual in this situation, you’re teaching those hurt by his words how to react if he, or someone like him, says them again.

The problem with that is that no one should have the opportunity to say them again.

The University is a supposed champion of diversity, something we boast about in all academic promotional material. But when those who make this campus as beautifully diverse as it is are attacked for that very thing, the University comes up short.

I love the University, which is why I criticize it the way I do. You fight for the things you care about, to better them, to help them grow. This stagnancy in the way the University handles these kinds of issues is not a step in the right direction but in the direction the University has supposedly left behind.

Maya Stevenson is a 20-year-old English and Philosophy junior from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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