The differences between “free speech” and “hate speech” have been questioned after several recent incidents occurred on Appalachian State University’s campus.And looky here...some international attention to the story from today's Editor and Publisher:
The incidents were prompted by the outcome of the Nov. 4 presidential election where Barack Obama was elected as the nation’s 44th president.
“What [the university does not have] a handle on is, [are the events] widespread, [are they] isolated and how many of our students are affected,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Development Dino DiBernardi said. “It’s really just a matter of trying to figure it all out."
With any election, some people will naturally be disappointed in the outcome.
However, it has come to the attention of the administration the “disappointment” has been expressed numerous times through the harassment of black students in residence halls and casual attitudes regarding assassination attempts against Obama.
Vice Chancellor for Student Development Cindy A. Wallace said several students encountered threatening conversations or “racially charged, horrible statements” in the residence halls after celebrating Obama’s victory.
The conversations also included a statement suggesting Obama may not be alive in 2009, Wallace said.
At least one t-shirt has been seen around Appalachian’s campus with the phrase, “Obama ’08, Biden ’09” displayed on it.
Appalachian students attempted to combat racism with an event yesterday.
Paul V. Ford, criminal justice and criminology graduate student, hosted “Unite Against Racism” on Sanford Mall as a project for a sociology class.
Attendees brought pictures, CDs, articles and other objects symbolizing racism to the area and “buried” them in a time capsule.The capsule will be stored in Belk Library & Information Commons’ archives for 20 years, where it will then be opened by future students so they can see how racism has changed in the country.
At Appalachian State University, the administration has expressed disappointment at the numerous times black students have expressed being harassed in residence halls since the election. The Appalachian, a student newspaper serving the university, also reported conversations suggesting Obama may not be alive in 2009 and a t-shirt seen around campus that reads “Obama ‘08, Biden ‘09.”
Is this unwarranted attention? By no means. Calling for the assassination of the president-elect is inexcusable. What this should be is a clarion call to the university administration that:
1) There exists a big opportunity to educate students about the importance of diversity and tolerance.
2) Some questions need to be asked about the quality of the education incoming students are receiving--regardless of their GPA.
3) This this is no time to sweep another controversy under the rug. The administration had better get ahead of this issue NOW--and not just in terms of public relations (spin). ASU can only rely on a winning football team for so long in order to generate good press.
Update: We have yet to see reports of these incidents on Aisling Broadcasting's goblueridge.net or on the Watauga Democrat's website. Why?