The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Last Tuesday, students and faculty gathered to participate in the Black State of the Union address. The event occurred after a student’s use of a racial slur in a GroupMe chat surfaced on social media.
Use of bigoted language is nothing new in this country or at Miami, so in the wake of this incident, it is encouraging to see a conversation about this type of culture on our campus. As speakers at the event said, this behavior is not limited to individual students, but it is a widespread problem that racial minorities at this school and others must deal with behind the curtain of the typical college image.
But to paraphrase Rodney Coates, coordinator of Black World Studies, who spoke at the event, conversations such as these happen on a regular basis every three to four years. And yet, we are still left with the same type of racist behavior occurring on a campus that preaches “Love and Honor” as its pillars.
We understand that the university likely has no jurisdiction to take punitive action against this particular student that used a racial slur. However, that does not mean there isn’t something the university can do to try to change these trends.
The administration can begin by calling out this behavior directly instead of referring to it with generalizations. President Gregory Crawford’s statement on the matter, emailed to students Nov. 7, touted a Miami community that works hard for inclusion, but failed to even mention the event that sparked this fallout. The statement claims that, “Individuals or factions that deny our values will not and cannot define us,” but how can we even begin to address these people without defining them?
Ambiguity is a problem, but even listed goals and ideals mean nothing if this type of conversation is simply going to be needed again when the next incident occurs.
Coates, along with a panel of students, is expected to report back to the university with concrete initiatives to help this problem. The university should eagerly await his response, but in the meantime, it is up to the administration to start addressing these issues in a meaningful way besides simply disavowing the individual action of a student as not becoming of a true Miamian. This behavior is here, and it is time to take direct action against it.