UW-Whitewater officials are reviewing a video posted on social media including racist content involving a student.
A short video involving several young white men shouting the N-word and other profanities several times was brought to the attention of Diversity and Inclusion Officer Kenny Yarbrough through a hate/bias incident report, he said.
The university has received “numerous communications from community members, students and alumni expressing concern” about the video, according to a statement from Chancellor Dwight Watson.
The behavior in the video is “concerning,” Watson said, but the announcement does not reference why the video is concerning or refer to the content as racist.
“We do not want our institution branded as a place of hate,” Watson said. “As a university, we take great pride in upholding our values of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
When asked why the university did not publicly refer to the video as racist, Yarbrough said the content of the video “does appear to be racist,” but the university did not want to say or do anything prematurely.
The video is under review by university officials, meaning officials are gathering details about when the video was made, if there is more to the video, who is in the video and more, Yarbrough said.
After review, officials could send the incident to Dean of Students Elizabeth Watson’s office for investigation. The dean of students office would determine consequences, if applicable, Yarbrough said.
It is too soon to say whether the incident will be referred for investigation, Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough said it’s possible the video was made years ago.
A tweet accompanying the video shows a statement from one of the young men involved, saying the video was made four years ago when he was 14 years old.
The statement was made by a person in the video who does not attend UW-Whitewater.
Several people on social media have listed names of people in the video and tagged the universities the men in the video attend, asking for the universities to take action.
“@UWWhitewater I hope you take this as an opportunity to show that you don’t allow racism at your school,” one person wrote on Twitter.
UW-Whitewater’s Delta Chi fraternity chapter on Instagram posted a statement saying one of its members is facing consequences for a video from years ago.
“We do not support racism and the controversy that has circulated is completely against our character and educational process,” the fraternity’s post reads.
In 2016, students made a barrage of complaints to then-Chancellor Beverly Kopper about racism across campus.
Campus-wide events and conversations were held about what the university should and could do about racism.
Yarbrough said the formation of the university’s hate/bias response team, which he now leads, was the result of those conversations.
The university is “vigilant” in ensuring incidents of racism are addressed quickly, Yarbrough said.
Racism is taken very seriously at UW-Whitewater, and incidents are treated in a fair and equitable way, Yarbrough said.