ASW leaders are initiating action to promote diversity and inclusion at the start of Fall semester, following up on campaign promises before the election in February. The student government said they will work to implement intentional conversations addressing inherent biases that can lead to racism.
This comes at the same time a former Westminster College student’s private group chat messages began circulating Twitter, showing screenshots of racist and derogatory remarks.
The messages were sent five years ago when the student was in high school. The screenshots showed a conversation between multiple individuals — who called themselves “The Superior Chat” — discussing why they lived in “a private city,” implying it was to keep certain populations out.
ASW Vice President Daud Mumin responded to the messages, publicly tweeting he does “not tolerate this type of behavior” and noting he would be encouraging the administration to “take appropriate, swift and decisive action.”
This action would include reflecting on these situations and ensuring they don’t happen on campus. This includes collaboration between students, administration, staff and faculty.
“We need to address: How do we tolerate, how do we allow this to happen on our campus,” Mumin said in an interview with The Forum. “Are there systems that are enabling this behavior? If there are systems, how do we correct them to make sure people are held accountable for their actions?”
As the tweets circulated across Twitter, several users demanded action be taken against the students involved. Westminster confirmed that several offices across campus received emails regarding the comments with screenshots attached.
“We are deeply disturbed by [the comments], as they exhibit abhorrent values and beliefs that run counter to the mission and values of the institution,” the college said in a response statement. “We also recognize that with each reposting of such appalling statements comes additional damage to all who must now be subjected again, years later, to the horrendous words and imagery.”
The college responded saying it was previously unaware of the comments, as they were made before the student enrolled. The administration reports there were no actions by the student that would’ve prompted disciplinary action during his time at Westminster.
“At the same time, as we consider our range of response, we remain compelled to stand by our values and beliefs with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion and to require conduct within our community that is consistent with those values and beliefs,” the college said.
The student responded to the screenshots on his personal Twitter account, posting a lengthy apology.
“I would like to apologize to all of the people in my communities that I have hurt,” the student wrote. “Words cannot begin to express nor is there any explanation sufficient or worthy. However, I feel compelled to acknowledge and take accountability for the hateful ignorant things that I wrote, although nothing can do justice to what was said.”
While the student acknowledges the statements are “ugly” and don’t reflect his current or past beliefs, he says he takes “absolute accountability for what I said.” He writes that he is unsure of the situation that would’ve prompted him to write those messages.
“I am not asking for forgiveness as no apology can or will ever make up for the things that I have said,” he writes. “My sole purpose is to be transparent in owning my actions, my mistakes, and offering my deepest remorse.”
Vice President Mumin said he wants to see action taken to avoid similar situations like this in the future — noting plans for collaboration between ASW, the administration and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“It’s sensitive, it hurts to see things like that,” Mumin said. “But it also hurts to think that Westminster might’ve helped foster an environment where we allowed such things to happen or such racist remarks to be made.”
Read more about ASW’s response here.