Earlier this week, Twitter exploded after a video surfaced of a student, Ryan Richards, using racial slurs. The video, which is attached below, shows Richards repeatedly using the word “nigger” and shows that he was in the on-campus apartments.
Students demanded that Richards face punishment due to his remarks from the video and those that followed.
In response to this situation, the Dean of Students said that Richards could not be reprimanded because what he said is protected under freedom of speech. However, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Richards’ statements fall under hate speech and therefore are not protected.
To conduct further damage control, FAU Housing conducted a safe space event on October 30th and it definitely did more harm than good.
During the event, Richards joined the call to “apologize” but it was not well received because immediately after he stated his apology he argued that the treatment he is getting is much worse because he is now receiving death threats and mean messages. Also, he stressed that he was not a racist nor was he trying to directly offend anyone on campus.
“As an African American student at FAU I feel disrespected, tired, and angry because there’s so much behind what he said and him claiming he wasn’t saying it personally to anyone to me, social media or not, he said it to every single black student at FAU,” said Demetria Hudson, the president of Minorities Moving Forward.
Students fired back saying that he brought this upon himself and that he should be held accountable for what he’s done. In response to this, Richards smirked, rolled his eyes, and had visible conversation with someone off camera. Eventually, the moderator, Mel Perez, the associate director of residential education, advised students to not address Richards but rather use our “I statements” and focus on how we feel. Eventually Richards left the call.
The overall consensus was that the call was pointless because no changes could be made and the so-called “higher ups” that are necessary to make change were not present.
“With the call I felt like it was not effective because it felt more of FAU trying to have us express what we feel then after say that they can’t do anything about it. The call needed to be people that have actual power to actually hear what we have to say and actually go back in the office and work on what we spoke on,” said Hudson.
This isn’t the first time that FAU has had a call to have students express their feelings. Back in July, we published an article on the forums FAU had to discuss race relations on campus. During those calls, black students expressed the need for consequences for students who use racial slurs and nothing happened and here we are again with the same situation and once again nothing is being done.
Black students are tired of talking with no action. We once again ask for punishment for students who use racial slurs. If there’s no punishment, what incentive is there for students to not repeat the behavior?
“I want FAU to expel Ryan Richards and I want a statement made by President John Kelly condemning racism and I want policies in place to prevent this from happening again. I want FAU to prioritize minorities, especially black lives on campus. I want a guarantee from the “higher ups” that they will be more strict on racist individuals that attend this university and racist that work for this university,” said Ronelle Harper, a member of SISTUHS Incorporated and Black Women In Medicine Incorporated.
FAU needs to stop wasting our time and having us spill our feelings on a call only to do nothing to help solve the situation and if they can’t, black people will take matters into our own hands.
“I personally want every black student to leave and never come back because we are better than this school and we deserve more. Especially since some of us pay out of pocket. 2020 has been a traumatic year for the Black race and the time has come for us as adults to prioritize our mental health and remove ourselves from unhealthy environments. FAU is that unhealthy environment,” said Harper.