On Mar. 7, 2015, a video of some college fraternity students went viral. In the video, the students are heard singing a chant to the tune of “If You‘re Happy and You Know It.” The chant begins with the refrain, “There will never be a nigger in SΑΕ,” which is followed by the lyrics, “You can hang him from a tree, but he’ll never sign with me,” followed again by the refrain.
Racism on college campuses isn’t an old concept, and it certainly hasn’t left the forefront of racial issues in today’s society.
The rebounding actions of this viral video were harsh. The University of Oklahoma president responded with a zero tolerance policy, suspended the fraternity members and threatened lifelong suspensions for anyone responsible for the chant. Two students were eventually expelled.
Surprisingly, incidents like these have been emerging recently. The University of Missouri racism scandal has raised further awareness of the issue of racism at universities, and some students accused certain college faculty of racism. According to CNN, this issue got so heated that 30 athletes of the Missouri Tigers football team would not even play until University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe stepped down.
On Nov. 7, Wolfe announced his resignation which was followed hours later by the resignation of R. Bowen Loftin, chancellor of the University’s Columbia campus. Calls for resignation of more university staff members are continuing.
The University of Illinois women’s basketball team also is alleged to have the same type of racial and emotional issues. In a July 7 CNN report, former players say that the assistant coach verbally attacked players daily, going after them for personal issues. They were also alleged to have racially segregated practices with the starters, who are primarily white, practicing separately from everyone else.
Students have responded to these issues by carrying out demonstrations on campus for various goals. According to the Huffington Post, dozens of other colleges, including Yale University, Princeton University, Stanford University and Vanderbilt University, have followed the University of Missouri with student demonstrations trying to combat the issue of racism in their school during November.
According to Fox News, as many as 20 campuses around the country were planning marches on a single day, Nov. 12, most prominently Columbia University in New York and Harvard University in Boston. Disaffected students at Loyola University in Chicago and the University of Michigan were preparing a list of demands and threatening action, according to The Seattle Times.
On Nov. 19, 2015, a Black Lives Matter demonstration was organized by the UC Berkeley Black Student Union and mirrored similar ‘Student Blackout’ walkouts at Yale, UCLA, Emerson College, Occidental College and a host of other universities across the nation in recent days.
According to Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz, a scholar of Latino and black male students, at Columbia University, “What we are seeing is the beginning of a movement where students and student groups across campuses are finding the courage to speak up about what they have been experiencing.”
“I think [the University of Missouri] is a catalyst, an inspiration perhaps, but not a one-off event,” Ruiz says. “I think we are also witnessing a reprise to history–college campuses have historically been places where protest to inequality has taken place.”
In response to these demonstrations, many schools, including Monterey Peninsula College, have been trying to educate and inform students about racial equality and enforce harsh penalties if students do not embrace these guidelines.
“MPC’s new student orientation includes an overview of college policies, procedures, rules and regulations of the student ‘Standard of Conduct’ policy,” says Laurence E. Walker, interim vice president of student services at MPC.
According to Walker, students are subject disciplinary action if “the following kinds of misconduct occurs: ‘physical or verbal abuse of any person…,” hazing or any act that injures, degrades, or disgraces or tend to injure, degrade, or disgrace any fellow student or person.’”
And according to Tyler Kingkade, a reporter from the Huffington Post, these racial issues on college campuses are not going away soon.