Black Student Union holds meeting after racially insensitive Halloween incident

On Nov. 2, BSU held a meeting to discuss a racially insensitive incident that took place Halloween weekend. Photo by Amanda Nicholson

On Thursday, Nov. 2, The College’s Black Student Union hosted a meeting to discuss how the college needs to move forward after the recent racist social media posts by College of Charleston students. The room was packed with people, with many standing by the wall or sitting on the floor in order to show support for and to participate in the discussion.

BSU board members delegating meeting. Photo by Amanda Nicholson

The discussion was led by the board members of the Black Student Union who proposed that the student body needs to change the current student code of conduct as well as the honor code to be stricter regarding racially charged speech. Members of the board accepted questions and suggestions from members of the audience, as well as answered online questions from people viewing the live stream of the meeting online.  

The event was called to order after a white College of Charleston student was photographed at an off-campus Halloween party wearing an orange jumpsuit with the name “Freddie Gray” written on a piece of paper taped to the back. The photo was later captioned “Ur going to jail tonight”.

Freddie Gray was an African-American man who has heavily injured during an arrest in 2016. Gray was accused of carrying an illegal switchblade, after which police handcuffed him and refused his requests for an inhaler. During transport, he suffered spinal cord injuries and later died in a hospital. He never spent time in jail.

The BSU wants to submit a list of changes that they want to see added to the Code of Conduct. They  emphasized that they wanted the effort to be inclusive of all the student body, and thus wanted to hear suggestions and criticisms. During the discussion, people suggested punishment for racist speech, a transparent school budget and that the President, Glenn McConnell, needs to be more accessible to students through office hours. Several faculty members noted that the BSU could collaborate with the Faculty Senate, as well as the Graduate Student Association.  

President McConnell released a statement on Monday, Oct. 30 that denounced the student’s behavior. “In no way does this behavior reflect our College of Charleston core values, especially as it relates to diversity, community and respect for the individual student.” However, many students at the BSU meeting noted that they do not feel comfortable with McConnell’s statement due to his ties with openly racist organizations such as the South Carolina Secessionist Party.

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