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Penn State Responds to Racist Video Posted on Social Media

by and on April 24, 2018 12:00 PM

Penn State on Monday night issued a statement condemning a video of "the use of a racial slur by a student" that appeared on social media over the weekend.

The statement, attributed to "University leaders" said the Office of Student Conduct is investigating.

"The University shares the outrage and disgust expressed on social media and beyond regarding the use of a racial slur by a student on her personal social media account," the message stated. "The inclusion and safety of all of our students is paramount. It is deeply troubling that as a society we today are still facing racism. We must uphold our values, and Penn State is increasingly focusing on how to address and educate our students on the impact of hateful messages and actions."


The videos were originally posted to social media accounts of Jasmine Barkley, who is a student at William Paterson University in New Jersey. They received widespread attention after being posted to Twitter on Sunday by Penn State student and University Park Undergraduate Association representative Seun Babalola.

Babalola identified the female in the first video and in the background of the second video as a Penn State supply chain major. The female in the foreground of the second video was identified as Barkley. William Paterson's student newspaper, The Beacon, confirmed Barkley's identity. The Penn State student's name has not been independently confirmed.

The videos can be seen here and here. Babalola initially identified Barkley as the person in the first video and the Penn State student as the person in the second video, but later corrected that information.

Babalola called on Penn State to respond, and initially the university replied that it condemned racist messages but that "We cannot, however, impose sanctions for Constitutionally protected speech, no matter how offensive."


The Beacon reported that Barkley, who had recently been elected vice president of the school's Greek Senate, was removed from Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. A WPU vice president also said that staff were investigating to determine appropriate university action.

On Monday, Barkley issued a comment saying she is not racist and believes "in equality and respect among all." The open letter, however, goes on to say, “The black race has been fighting against segregation for a long time, yet the divide of who can use the n-word only creates more segregation.”


Babalola said the Penn State student was a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, which had its university and national recognition revoked earlier this year  over hazing allegations.

Penn State's Interfraternity Council tweeted a statement saying "There is no place for hate and prejudice in our community. We condemn any words or actions that hurt others." The tweet included a link to the university's incident reporting form.


UPUA President Cody Heaton weighed in on the situation Sunday night, saying the student body will not tolerate hate-fueled words like those used in the video.


The Penn State College Democrats released a similar statement -- prior to the Monday night university statement saying the incident was being investigated -- calling for Penn State administrators to “change course” in their decision and citing other universities that have recently disciplined students for racist speech.


The institutions reference in the College Democrats post  — University of Alabama and University of Oklahoma — have both expelled students for hateful messaging. These incidents and other like them have sparked a national debate over free speech as it relates to hate speech, specifically on college campuses.


Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

Elissa Hill is managing editor for Onward State.
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