Norfolk, Va. – A Facebook post by ODU students has sparked outrage on campus with some calling the post racist. About 50 students met to talk about the post on Thursday night.
The post shows two students in masks with several hashtags, including #icanbreathe, #handsupWecanShoot, and #Wedontlietogarnerfakesympathy.
“I felt that it was very insensitive to black students here at ODU,” said Angel Roane, a senior.
ODU’s administration quickly responded to the post. University President John Broderick called it “unacceptable” and “inappropriate” in a letter on Facebook.
The president says the university’s office of Institutional Equity and Diversity is reviewing the incident.
Students hope talking about race relations will help the university move forward. “It does hit home and let ODU students know that this does happen on our campus,” said Roane. “Race, race relations, diversity, and inclusivity need to be talked about.”
Here is President Broderick’s full letter:
Dear Old Dominion Community,
I am writing you today to address an incident involving the use of social media. The post included comments that have offended members of our campus community.
Taken at face value, it is difficult for me to understand the callousness displayed regarding recent events in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City. We should all remember that each of these incidents resulted in a tragic loss of life. I regard these ill-conceived remarks as unacceptable and inappropriate.
When statements are made that mock these events, we all suffer. We suffer because hurtful statements marginalize us as individuals. But in a broader sense, we also suffer as a society because divisiveness degrades our collective sense of civility and empathy toward others.
I want to reiterate my long-standing position that divisive and exclusionary language and actions have no place at Old Dominion University. I am proud of the diversity and culture of inclusivity that is readily displayed here, even to the most casual observer.
Be assured, Old Dominion is proudly committed to fostering a living and learning environment that is diverse at its core. We actively promote inclusion and cultural understanding as key principles that directly contribute to the ultimate success of the University as well as that of each of our students, faculty and staff.
Today, I tasked the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity to review the matter and report results to appropriate administrators.
Free speech and due process are integral components of our country’s social fabric and should be protected.
I encourage everyone in the Old Dominion community to use this unfortunate incident as an opportunity to reflect on our attitudes toward others and engage in civil discussion. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of differences. Nothing less is acceptable.
John R. Broderick