ACU Speaks on Anti-Harassment Policy

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Two former Abilene Christian University students learned the hard way about the dangers of posting to social media. A video of a white student in black face spread on Snapchat and Twitter. It was taken in a dorm room on campus and quickly prompted university officials to take action. It brings to light ACU’s anti-harassment policy.

“Shock, anger, really didn’t know where to place their emotions, so kind of all over the place as you can imagine, not just black students, it was students across the spectrum who came into my office and said ‘what are we doing about this?'” said Prentice Ashford, director of multicultural affairs at ACU.

In the video captioned, “This is why black lives matters exists”, a white student seen in blackface says, “I’m a strong black woman” before putting red wax lips into her mouth. The girl recording the video laughs shortly after. It caused quite the outcry on and off campus, now the two involved are no longer students.

“We can’t prevent people from posting things on social media, however part of our policy does indicate that those postings can not be offensive in nature. Posting objects, pictures, videos, or audios that could be embarrassing or offensive to a person or a class of people are prohibited under our policy in anti-harassment,” said deputy anti-harassment coordinator, Sherita Nickerson.

Blackface is deemed as offensive because of it’s historical connotation,”nothing was positive or edifying or congratulatory about that,” said Nickerson.

Students on campus say incidents like this are just another reason why conversations need to be had so that students know what would and wouldn’t offend other cultures,”I think we need to have open discussions and not be afraid and get uncomfortable. The point is to get uncomfortable because we’re not just supposed to sit here and not talk about it because if we don’t talk about it, it’s never going to get fixed,” said freshman Erica Robbins.

“As a director of OMA I’ll continue to provide opportunities for people to mix in with other cultures and really get hands on with people that are different from them so that you can lessen the possibility or at least be aware of how my action could potentially offend or hurt someone else,” said Ashford.

Nickerson said when both of the students involved were called into her office, they were extremely shocked at the response of the video and also remorseful and concerned with their presence on campus because neither of them wanted to be labled as racists.

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