Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Campus community addresses racism on social media

The Office of the Dean of Students is working to end online racism negatively reflecting the vision of the college after a series of racist messages were posted to the anonymous social media app Yik Yak this week.
Students and faculty received an email Wednesday informing the Augustana community about the messages posted on Yik Yak. The app allows users to post anonymously, which other app users can up-vote or down-vote. Users can only view posts made by people within a 1.5 mile radius.
The Office of the Dean of Students stated that the post targeted and impacted African American students on campus.
Dean Evelyn Campbell said in the email that she personally believes that anonymity is the “coward’s way out.” Yet many students continue to use Yik Yak.
“To use Yik Yak to offend others anonymously is cowardly, but using the app with good intentions is fun and I wish that was the mindset of all of its users” said Darica Drake, a first-year student who uses the app on occasion.
Augustana has a mission to produce “the qualities necessary for rewarding life of leadership and service in a diverse and changing world,” according to the email, and Dean Campbell claims these types of posts interfere with this mission.
“If a statement is put out with no person behind it, there can’t be dialogue and opportunity for growth (as a community),” Campbell said. “Augustana is seeking leaders who stand up for what they believe and take responsibility for their actions and treat others with dignity.”
Director of the Office of Multicultral Student Life, Patricia Santoyo-Marin said that those types of leaders are the types of leaders that are “foundational to the kind of community that all of us want to be a part of.”
“Keeping an open mind about cultural diversity on our campus helps allow us to learn, understand and build off one another’s differences,” said Taylor Miller, president of the Resident Hall Association (RHA). “This type of experience could help us make major decisions in our futures.” RHA works to ensure that students have the opportunity to grow in mind, body and spirit outside of the classroom and encourages diversity in Augustana’s residential halls.
“I hope that all of our students take this topic seriously and reflect on how we can engage in respectful dialogue that does promote leadership and growth,” Santoyo-Marin said.
Augustana’s Public Safety and police department is investigating the cases and working to identify who posted the racist remarks.
“We will ensure they face consequences for their actions,” said Campbell.
“Augustana Public Safety/Police’s goal is to support the college’s mission to provide a healthy, safe and engaging environment in which our students can learn and grow,” said Tom Phillis, Chief of Augustana’s Public Safety/Police. “This post was the action of a couple of students and does not represent the values of the college or the majority of this community.”
As the investigation continues, anyone with additional information may contact Public Safety.

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Campus community addresses racism on social media