A Colorado College student was accused of racism and suspended for six months after he made a social media comment that black women were “not hot.” Another student, Lou Henriques, who had a prior disciplinary record, was expelled.
They admitted to making the comments on an anonymous social media app called Yik Yak during a spirited debate around #BlackLivesMatter.
Some had written “#blackwomenmatter,” and Pryor replied by writing, “They matter, they’re just not hot.”
“I was ashamed, because some people were clearly upset,” Pryor told The College Fix website, so he took it down. Unfortunately, in the world of social media, nothing ever really goes away. Other students had taken screenshots of the comments and promptly alerted college administrators.
A Student Life panel brought Pryor in for questioning after they spotted his comment blown up on a poster on campus. “Some people screenshotted the most racial things said, and they blew them up onto banners and hung them up in the student center in front of the dean’s office,” Pryor told the site.
Dean of Students Mike Edmonds and his assistant and associate deans decided to suspend Pryor for 21 months. It was later appealed to six months.
Multiple students were involved with the Yik Yak situation on Nov. 9. Students were targeting white students at first. Someone called them “dirty hippies with small dicks” who are “always fucking their cousins. Someone also began disparaging Muslims and “Smurfs,” Pryor told the site.
Pryor warned Edmonds that the school was setting a bad precedent with the “harsh and immediate” suspension for one post. He asked the dean to consider whether the move would “encourage or discourage conversations on campus” about an “entire body of ideas.”
Edmonds said that Pryor had “accepted responsibility for the comment,” and that he would end the suspension May 16, which marks the end of the school year.
In his appeal letter, Pryor admitted posting the “not hot” comment but denied being involved in any of the other posts.
He is prohibited from being on campus or taking courses during the time he is suspended. He is also prohibited from taking courses at other universities, which will prevent him from finishing his degree on schedule.
Director of News and Media Relations Leslie Weddell told The Fix that she was prevented from commenting on the case due to privacy issues.
In the appeal, Pryor wrote that the university had violated its rules: “During my hearing, rather than presenting me with my possible violations then investigating my actions and how they may have constituted those violations, I was simply treated as broadly guilty.” He said the deans were accusing him of posting all of the comments that night, not just the “not hot” comment that he admitted to.
He said the 21-month suspension was not “appropriate to the needs of the student and the CC community.”
He accused assistant deans Rochelle Mason and Cesar Cervantes of focusing on the “far more heinous” Yik Yak comments, using the “explicit language of white supremacy, racial slurs, and open hatred, all language and attitudes that I find despicable.”
This case is just the latest in a long line of racial controversies on campus. At Yale University, a Yale faculty member was forced to resign after defending students who wore Halloween costumes that were deemed racially offensive. At the University of Missouri, the college president resigned after the football team got involved in a protest over an environment they felt was racially hostile.
Students have called on campuses being “safe spaces” where they are free from comments and actions that might make them feel uncomfortable. Opponents believe that some campuses have gone too far and are now violating the right of free speech in an effort to eliminate actions that might be deemed offensive.