Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN, Sentinel County Editor
Thursday, 02 May 2013 07:51
Bowling Green State University officials have repeatedly assured that the white students who tweeted racist comments about some black students will face consequences for violating the school's Code of Conduct.
However, it's unlikely that any of those disciplinary actions will be disclosed to the public.
And that is troubling to some in the community who think the university should be more transparent about the disciplinary actions.
"We need to send a clear signal to the entire community that the university won't tolerate it," said Dr. Dalton Jones, ethnic studies professor and adviser to the Black Student Union. "If they engage in hate speech or hate acts, the university will respond in a strong, swift and decisive manner."
Last month, when the tweets were first posted, the university administration reacted quickly. Within a few hours of being made aware of the racist comments, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey issued a campus-wide statement.
"All across campus we work hard to uphold the core values of the university, including respect for one another. The actions of the students involved is not condoned, nor acceptable," Mazey stated.
The incident investigation was turned over to the Office of the Dean of Students in accordance with the BGSU Code of Student Conduct.
"We assure you that we will conduct a full investigation as prescribed by the code," the statement read.
The sanctions for violating the student code of conduct range from a written notice or loss of privileges, to discretionary assignments, suspension or expulsion.
The university also took action to organize public meetings prompted by the racist incident. During one of those meetings last week - a panel discussion on racism - officials were questioned about the consequences that would be faced by the student tweeters.
Jill Carr, dean of students, again assured the crowd that the acts would not go unpunished.
"The university does hold students accountable for this type of behavior," Carr said.
At that point, the investigation was ongoing, and Code of Conduct charges had been brought. "There will be accountability. There will be sanctions," she said.
But due to the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act, the discipline will not be made public. Since the students did not break a law, but just violated the BGSU Code of Conduct, their sanctions can remain private.
BGSU spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said the university could not even release the disciplinary actions without giving the names of the students involved. Kielmeyer said because the students' tweets were available for so many to view, their identities are essentially known to many in the university community. The results of disciplinary proceedings can only be disclosed if they involve a crime of violence or sexual offense, legal counsel reportedly informed Kielmeyer. And the racist tweets don't qualify.
Kielmeyer was, however, able to report that three students were disciplined. "They were held accountable," he said.
But some in the university community want to know exactly what that means. They would like the fate of the students to be public - without their names being released.
"We deserve to know what the university is doing concretely to address this situation and situations like this," Jones said.
The sanctions should be proportionate to the offense, Jones said, suggesting that at the least the students should learn from their consequences.
"Certainly there should be an educational component, a community component" and possibly required sensitivity training, he said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 09:33