November 25, 2014

Eyes on the prize

Controversy on Facebook should not distract from students’ legitimate grievances.

On Monday, November 24, the administration announced in an e-mail that, after investigating an incident of hate speech posted on Facebook, it is “confident that the Facebook posting was not created by a hacker.” The news is understandably upsetting or troubling to those who were misled. However, fixating on accusations surrounding recent events distracts from the fact that steps still need to be taken to improve the racial climate on campus. The sentiments that existed before the Facebook post still ring true, and should be treated accordingly. The conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion on campus must continue in light of recent developments.

The recent development in the administration’s investigation of the Facebook status should not de-legitimize the issues of racism that have been raised, or mitigate the seriousness with which they should be addressed. Acts of racism have been committed on this campus prior to and following the petition. Much of the discourse surrounding recent events has taken place on virtual forums like Facebook, Twitter, and Yik Yak, and anonymity has incited some bold, even blatantly racist, comments about the situation.

This recent chain of events has sparked conversation, as well as some notable progress. In addition to the recent student written petition, Student Government, as well as faculty members from the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, have issued public statements suggesting ways in which the school should actively cultivate a more inclusive campus. These steps of progress and constructive criticism should be the main takeaway from these past few weeks.

On a FAQ page posted on the University’s Campus and Student Life website, the administration reaffirmed that it would “consult with students, faculty, and staff members to address those issues and provide venues for continued discussion and action steps.” We will hold the administration accountable to these words, and expect to see the issue treated with the same urgency as was demonstrated before the hack was revealed to be contrived. Addressing concerns with campus racial climate—and any issue that might compromise a student’s perception of their place on campus—should be a priority regardless of the level of visibility of specific threats against students.

—The Maroon Editorial Board