Racist Chant Exposes Ugly Side of Campus

Anonymous, SUNY Oneonta Student

I am a black female student who was waiting for the bus between Milne Library and Schumacher Hall around 1 a.m. one night, when the Hillside Commons bus pulled up.  A white male student with frat letters on his shirt got off the bus shouting, “There will never be a nigger in SAE. You could hang them from a tree, but they will never pledge with me. There will never be a nigger in SAE.” He looked right at me, chanting with a smile on his face. He was blatantly racist without a care in the world.

A white female student came to my defense and exchanged words with him. She was furious. I was so thankful she stood up and said something. A lot of students don’t speak up when a student of color or a student of the LGBTQ community is being discriminated against.

I was in awe that he would repeat the same racist chant that an Oklahoma University fraternity was banned earlier this year for saying, and that he felt comfortable enough to say it while looking me dead in the face. I’m not shocked to hear a white student say and do something racist because I hear it and see it everyday on our campus. As a student of color, I am confronted with racism every week.

The week prior to this incident, myself and a few other black students were on the bus headed into town. It was on the weekend and the bus was crowded. We were just standing, not saying a word, when a white male student said, “Let’s piss off the black kids on the bus and say ‘Fuck Obama.’” As soon as they started to shout the rest of the white students decided to join in with them. They all intentionally singled us out to hurt us, and why? Just because we are black. And no one said that was wrong, no one said anything.

It is too often that students of color and students of the LGBTQ community are discriminated against by white students on our campus. There are no policies being enforced that protect us and bring some form of disciplinary action to those who feel it is okay to hurt us with their words, with their derogatory remarks because of our race, gender, religion or disabilities. Just because it isn’t broadcasted and you may not  have experienced it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Something must be done and soon. We have diversity but no inclusiveness. I am not saying all white students are racist, but for the ones who are, we all, no matter your race, should stand up to those racist students, faculty and staff and no longer be bystanders. When we see and/or hear someone being discriminated against we must all speak up. The only way to change the racial tensions and discrimination on our campus is if we all, Black, White, Asian and Latinos, join together and unite to make an impactful change.

And again, I would like to say thank you to the student who stood up for me that night I was waiting for the bus. I greatly appreciate what you did for me and how brave you were, and I hope someone else will also have the courage you did and stand up for others in the face of discrimination.

38 Comments

  1. As an alumni of this college, a place I love, and one that will always have a special place in my heart, I am disgusted…completely sick to my stomach over this. It has broken my heart. For this to happen on a campus that preaches acceptance and diversity in everything it does is so disappointing to see. If this student was part of greek life, the entire greek life should be ashamed of themselves. These frats and sororities want a better reputation? They need to earn it, and this sure doesn’t show that they deserve an ounce of respect if they aren’t willing to give it. To this author…you have my full support, and I truly hope something is done about this. Absolutely heartbreaking.

    • There isnt even a recognized SAE organization campus so for you to group all of greek life together is just plain ignorant. I’ve come to expect nothing less though from people and their blind hate for greek life. These unrecognized organizations are not associated with greek life in the slightest and are full of low lifes anyway. Can also guarantee you no recognized fraternity memember would say a chant thats apart of another fraternity since we all have ridiculous amounts of pride in our own letters and each believe our own fraternity is the best

        • When did she say all greek life? You people literally care more about your reputation than the safety of students of color.

      • To begin with, the reason this article was posted was not with the intention of broadcasting “blind hate for greek life”. You, my friend, are ignorant if that is all that you extracted from this article.

        Individuals of color (Asian, Latino(ase), African-American, African, Jamaican, etc., etc.) and other marginalized groups (poor, LGBTQ, etc.) are targeted incessantly. If you are too engrossed in your whiteness, which I am presuming that you are due to your commentary on this post, you will never see/be effected by things like this. Oneonta prides itself on being a “diverse” institution. It cannot become such an university until greek organizations, clubs, administration, faculty, and most importantly THE STUDENTS make this campus a safe and welcoming place for all.

    • The author never says the white male was a member of SAE. She describes him as a white male wearing frat letters on his shirt.

    • So you don’t think it’s possible for someone to have repeated the chant? The Oklahoma State story was all over the news, it’s literally impossible that the student that reported this thought they were tricking someone. SUCO is an extremely racist campus and ya’ll just out here making excuses.

    • Did you even read this? She explicitly states that the Oklahoma chant was repeated to her, word for word. It was one of the things that made the experience so horrifying. Either you fail at reading comprehension or you are trying to stir up trouble.

    • Did the black female who wrote this say anything about SAE being a fraternity here? I didn’t think so…. Maybe you should take a critical reading course…

    • As a matter of fact Brianne, it did happen. She clearly states another white student on campus witnessed her attack and came to her defense. I know both these individuals in the fact they they are not lying and would not make something like this up. Racially biased acts happen everyday on this campus, and just because there is no SAE frat on campus here at Oneonta, that doesn’t mean that the chant couldn’t have been repeated to her. If something like this happened to you wouldn’t you want people to listen to your story instead of questioning you or telling you that you lied? Stop questioning and start listening and educate yourself about what is happening on campus and in our community.

  2. One bad apple in a bunch of good ones doesnt make the entire basket rotten. Some people are racist, both black and white. Doesnt mean its right but people need to toughen up a bit. I personally could care less if a black kid called me a cracker. But if it really bothered me I would say something to them. Freedom of speech will always be there. Like your mom always told you “Sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt you”. You are that much of a better person for NOT letting some drunk racist idiot alter your feelings. And please keep the greek associstion away from all of this. It has nothing to do with what that one individual did

    • This is ridiculous. Being called a “cracker” is not the same as chanting about slavery to a black person. And we should not all be toughening up just so we can endure hate and prejudice, we should be standing together and sticking up for one another. Your attitude is backwards. I think you are upset because she associated racism with greek life but I think we are all smart enough to know that many of the people involved with greek life are kind and generous people who would NEVER say or do that. Your post is doing more damage to the greek reputation than this article.

    • I’m sure it wouldn’t bother you if someone called you a cracker because you’re not discriminated against for being white. It’s ridiculous that you would even give an example like that. The fact that you made your name “Greek life” shows you only commented to protect your precious little fraternity/sorority. Please take a step back and try to comprehend that your organization isn’t the only important thing on this campus and that people do need to stop being racist on this campus.

    • Of course Greek life can be very honorable and creates community. That’s why if you are called a cracker, it’s okay. You are in the majority, live and experience white privilege in an institution that is institutionally racist. Inept administration coupled with staff and academics fear to speak out or desire to climb the greasy pole to promotion are responsible for the current morass. As for students of color, life is not easy and it will only get harder. Attempts at inclusion created without a profound understanding of race, gender, and class as tools of power used to control, makes for the persistence of institutional racism. Setting up programs for educating people is futile. The racism is related and tied in to capitalism which espouses a dominant racist logic. These pillars are part of American life, including this institution. The greater the white privilege structures, like our institution, the more claim to fame of diversity it will make. Then again, the core explodes like a volcano at times to expose the truth for all to see. This is one such event. Stop being defensive and realize your privileges. Thank you for reading and allowing me to state my person views.

  3. I think you all should practice taking pictures and videos on your phones. If you can whip one out in a moment like this and catch it on video, you very well could expose the individuals responsible and cause a huge public outcry.

    If they want to ostracize you, the rest of the community will ostracize them.

    You definitely dont deserve such treatment. And I am sure a majority of students on this campus would stop such a disgusting act. Although this makes me question that statement, at least I would have stood with you.

  4. Not to take any thunder away from this article at all be cause it raises very good awareness about this issue but I think the statement “I’m not surprised a white person said that” comes off as Racist as well. Please be careful not to divide the issue into an us vs them mentality as I really believe it undermines the whole discussion. It just creates polarity which really is just a step away from racism, right?

    • So it takes just three comments before the “well, you’re a racist too” line gets thrown out there. “Not to take any thunder away from this article”… BS. You are trying to discredit and diminish what happened. This is no different than when someone says “please don’t take this the wrong way” and then insults you. Your point is blatantly obvious, and that is that there’s nothing really wrong with this woman being the subject of a racist chant because she is also racist… which is WRONG.

    • I do not believe the author was being racist when they said ” I am not surprised a white person said that”. The author is speaking from experience and their experience has taught them to expect being targeted for their race. As a white person I know I can never truly understand what it is like to be black. I don’t think any white person can. Therefore it is not our place to allude that this author is being racist because they have come to expect racist behavior from their peers. It is a common occurence in many campuses.

  5. I am a faculty member and I am angered, appalled, and saddened by the hateful actions you describe here and also by the inactions. So I find hope in the fact that you are sharing these experiences–and in the student who spoke up for you. We all need to stop being bystanders and rise as standbyers.

  6. This behavior is unacceptable. I want anyone who reads this to know that I am a greek life member, but would NEVER associate myself with an individual who would do such a disgusting thing. I honestly wish she included his letters so there would be repercussions. Although this shines negative light on greek life, we are not all bad. Most of us would have stood up for this girl. I don’t want to be grouped together with that individual and if I knew who it was, I would do something about it. I’m not ashamed to be a part of my organization because I have faith in it. I hope some of you still believe we would do the right thing if we had the chance.

  7. Report this. Search bias acts on oneonta.edu, so an investigation can start. This is disgusting and I’m so sorry this happened to you. I stand beside you.

  8. Thank you for writing this important article and having the courage to talk about your experiences on campus. I am ashamed of students who shouted, sang, said these things. They do not speak for us but they are our responsibility.

  9. If my information is incorrect, I ask that someone please correct me.

    It is my understanding that when something of this nature occurs, the college can and will move mountains to discipline anyone involved in the commission of a hate crime, but the college can only do so under one condition:

    either the victim, or a witness to the incident must report it.

    Any staff or faculty member who investigates, or attempts to investigate an incident of this nature in the absence of an official report, is in direct violation of FERPA regulations.

    If the victim of this crime has made no attempt to file a report with campus authorities, then this is the sole reason for the college’s lack of action.

    SUNY Oneonta’s hands are tied without an official report.

    • As a student that has reported incidents of racial bias I can honestly say that our school doesn’t do much or take our concerns seriously. While it is important to file reports please don’t think that it’ll solve everything.

  10. The problem isn’t racism. It’s the fact people don’t know just how to be human beings. Regardless of who you are, your skin color, whatever, we are all in this planet together. We are real, life is real, everything we see is real. What isn’t real are these terms “black” and “white” and what have you. Spend so much time worrying about black and white and you all forget how to just be people. It’s pathetic, but that’s neither here nor there.

  11. I have been a student at Suco for three years and seen racism in action seen so many of my colored friends and I affected by it. I know of many students talking to faculty, UPD, the President, with very little change. I know of students taking pictures and videos of racists, who have made it clear that no matter what the students do they would not get in trouble because they have money and their white. The fact is not everyone is racist, but the school is pushing for students of color to come to this campus without providing a safe and comfortable atmosphere.

  12. I was shocked when I read this article and also saddened because no person or group should have to live in fear of being ridiculed. If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. The student who spoke up for the young woman who that SAE recruit chanted at should be commended! It is not a complete solution but pull out your cell phone and snap pics so these barbarians can be identified and removed from this campus permanently!
    If we know who this SAE frat is then pull them all into the judicial office and have that student or students identify him and then expel him and give the rest of them a strong warning that this type of behavior will NOT be tolerated here!

  13. I am a faculty member, and I want to say that I support you and appreciate your speaking out publicly not only about this terrible act of racism but about broader issues of inclusion. I wholeheartedly endorse your message that “When we see and/or hear someone being discriminated against we must all speak up.”

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