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Racism a lingering problem
among collegiate millennials
K.IMBERLY HEFL1NG AND
JESSE J . HOLLAND
COLLEGE PARK, Md- Kay la
Tarrant loves the University of Maryland.
But the campus tour guide says a racist
email and photo attributed to her school
mates makes her reluctant to encourage
other black students to enroll "in a place
where you feel unsafe and no one cares
"We're literally begging people to care
about our issues," Tarrant said, with tears
in her eyes, to applause from about 100
students ? blacks, Hispanics, Asians and
a few whites ? gathered to discuss the
racial climate at the predominantly white,
Conversations like the recent one at
Maryland's Nyumburu Cultural Center are
taking place nationwide as racist incidents
continue to pop up at colleges and univer
sities, even though students are becoming
increasingly vocal in protesting racism and
administrators are taking swift, zero-toler
ance action against it.
Last week alone, Bucknell University
expelled three students for making racist
comments during a March 20 campus
radio broadcast. At Duke University, a
noose was found hanging from a tree.
"I just want to say that if your intent
was to create fear, it will have the opposite
effect," said Larry Moneta, vice president
for student affairs at Duke. Officials have
since accused a student in the incident but
have declined to release the student's name
This is happening against a backdrop
of promise when it comes to race relations,
with campuses enrolling record numbers
of black and Hispanic millennials. The
current college generation ? young peo
ple who came of age under the nation's
first black president ? is said to have
more accepting racial attitudes, but ending
racism among them has proved elusive.
The Bucknell and Duke incidents came
days after spray-painted swastikas and
nooses were found at dorms on the State
University of New York's Purchase cam
pus. A former University of Mississippi
student was indicted on federal civil rights
charges last month, accused of tying a
noose on the statue of the university's
first black student and draping it with an
old Georgia state flag that includes a
Confederate battle emblem.
Social media have stoked the issue,
Recent racially tinged incidents on college campuses:
*Duke University officials say a student hung a noose in a plaza of the North
Carolina campus, but they refuse to release the person's name or race.
?Three students at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania are expelled over a
campus radio broadcast in which they make racist comments and use a slur.
?Fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma are caught on videotape
taking part in a chant that includes references to lynching and uses a racial slur
to.describe how the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity will never accept black mem
?At the State University of New York's Purchase campus, someone spray
paints swastikas and nooses on the walls of three freshman dormitories. Police
arrest 18-year-old Raymond Turchioe and charge him with aggravated harass
?Former University of Mississippi student Graeme Phillip Harris is indicted on
federal civil rights charges. He is accused of tying a noose around a statue of the
university's first African-American student last year.
?University of Virginia student Martese Johnson calls police racist after a vio
lent arrest by state Alcoholic Beverage Control police. Video of his blood-soaked
face appears on social medig. He plans to plead not guilty to public intoxication
or swearing and obstruction of justice.
*An Arizona State University police officer resigns after being caught on video
slamming a black female professor to the ground during an arrest for walking in
the middle of a street near campus. English professor Ersula Ore pleads guilty to
a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, saying she was walking in the street on
May 20 because construction work obstructed the sidewalk.
The Associated Press
with top administrators at Kansas State,
the University of Northern Iowa and the
University of Missouri urging students to
stop posting anonymous racist speech.
The wide usage of sharable video has
also been a factor. In February, students at
the University of Oklahoma were caught
on video singing a chant that included ref
erences to lynching and used a racial slur
to describe how the Sigma Alpha Epsilon
fraternity would never accept black mem
"We had an epidemic of racism all
across our country," University of
Oklahoma President David Boren, who
banned the fraternity from campus, said in
a news conference. "Ferguson, Missouri,
might be the best-known case, but it's all
across our country every day, every week.1'
Even before the Oklahoma incident, a
little more than half ? 51 percent ? of
college and university presidents in an
Inside Higher Ed poll conducted this year
by Gallup rated race relations on college
campuses as "fair."
Tasia Harris, a senior at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said
racially charged events in society are "bla
tant reminders that this is something that
continues to affect our lives." She is
among students who are trying to get a
plaque placed next to a Confederate sol
dier statue on her campus, explaining its
The Pew Research Center work has
iouna tnat miuenmais are
more likely than older gener
ations to say society should
make every possible effort to
improve "the position of
blacks and other minorities.
They are also more likely to
support interracial marriage
and have friends of other
Such data also shows
A sign post is seen outside the interna
tional headquarters of Sigma Alpha
Epsilon in Evanston, Illinois on
divides. Little more than half of white and
black millennial in one Pew survey said
all, most or some of their friends are black
or white, respectively.
And among millennials age 18-24, a
2012 Public Religion Research
Institute/Georgetown University poll
found 56 percent of white millennials said
the government has paid too much atten
tion to the problems of minorities over the
past few decades.
About a quarter of black respondents
and 37 percent of Hispanics agreed. In
1976, nearly 10 percent of students were
African-American and 4 percent were
Hispanic. In 2013, nearly 15 percent were
black and nearly 16 percent Hispanic. The
National Center for Education Statistics
projects such growth will continue.
At the University of Maryland, a stu
dent resigned from Kappa Sigma fraternity
this year after being suspended after a
2014 email containing racially and sexual
ly suggestive language about black, Indian
and Asian women was made public.
University administrators say they are
addressing students' concerns and point to
holding open forums, creating a multicul
tural student advisory group to advise the
college president and educating Greek
members aboilt topics such as "multicul
Hefling reported from Washington.
Associated Press News Survey Specialist
Emily Swanson contributed to this report.
Kimberly Hefling covers education. Jesse
J. Holland covers race and ethnicity for
The Associated Press.
The Chronicle (USPS 067-910) was established by Ernest
H. Pitt and Ndubisi Egemonye in 1974 and is published
every Thursday by Winston-Salem Chronicle Publishing
Co. Inc., 617 N. Liberty Street, Winston-Salem, N.C.
27101. Periodicals postage paid at Winston-Salem, N.C. .
Annual subscription price is $30.72.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to:
The Chronicle, P.O. Box 1636
Winston-Salem, NC 27102-1636
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