Officials at Southern Illinois University are investigating allegations of racism on campus after freshman student Leilani Bartlett said she heard racist comments from pro-Donald Trump students.
“They said the Black Lives Matter movement was retarded. They told us to go back to Africa. They saying the ‘N’ word, calling us ‘n**gas,'” an emotional Bartlett said in the three-minute video that has garnered more than 150,000 views since last Thursday.
“You’re not going to make me feel uncomfortable at a school I pay $22,000 to go to,” Bartlett said in her video. “I went down there, and I confronted all of them. Y’all want to have an open discussion and an open forum about black people? Let me pull up a seat.”
As Bartlett’s video circulated online, a formal complaint was made, said SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith, which prompted the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to launch an investigation in conjunction with the school’s Office of Diversity and Equity.
“We’re taking it very seriously,” Goldsmith said. “We care a lot about the welcoming nature of our campus.”
Over the weekend, Southern Illinois University interim Chancellor Bradley Colwell released a statement announcing the investigation into “racial issues that have occurred in a campus residence hall.”
“Free speech is an important right and value,” Colwell said. “It is also important to use that right wisely and respectfully.
Goldsmith added, “Just because you can say something doesn’t mean that you must say it. So we’ve got some education to do.”
Colwell has also ordered Southern Illinois University staff “to develop a plan to expand and promote conversations and workshops that focus on the importance of valuing and respecting diversity,” noting that “participation is strongly encouraged.”
Complaints against college students who support Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have popped up on several college campuses as of late, from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, to the University of Michigan.