Online Racism: School Investigating Students’ Facebook Chat

Be careful what you write. The recurring theme of EduDemic seems to be privacy concerns at schools. Privacy issues are one of the big concerns at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where a pair of students held an online exchange using racist language about a black woman who walked by them in a study lounge. Was the conversation private? If it’s online, it’s not. No matter how safe you feel having a conversation on Facebook, there is a good chance it will be seen by at least one other person at some point.

The University of Minnesota-Duluth

That’s just what happened. The wall-to-wall conversation between two white women developed as a black woman entered the study lounge they were in. The school’s paper, The Statesman, posted excerpts of the conversation, which include a racial slur and statements about feeling ‘unsafe’ and ‘dirty’ in the black student’s presence.

In a speech about the incident, chancellor Kathryn A. Martin said she was “deeply saddened” for the conversation’s victim, and that the school will be “more vigilant” in relation to race and diversity issues. The Duluth News Tribune has more:

Martin said the university needs to work with the Student Association to address the issue. UMD — which has 130 black students this year out of a total population of about 11,000 — hasn’t been as consistent as it should be about following up on racial incidents through the years, Martin said.

Some of the school’s students say the conversation blatantly violated the university’s code of conduct — but others say that it was a joke taken out of context and proportion.

The conversation’s perpetrators have met with campus officials and were given a transcript of the chat. They have until next week to respond, and then their punishment will be determined.