College life may be a dream come true for some, but 18-year-old freshman, Donald Williams may have a different opinion.
According to reports, Williams filed a $5 million lawsuit against San Jose State University for failing to protect him against racial bullying and other racial harassments. A few of the incidences that occurred between September and October 2013, included four White roommates harassing Williams, those same roommates “flying the Confederate flag and displaying Nazi imagery in the dorm,” and calling him “three-fifths.”
The latter refers to a historical term used during the pre-Civil War era to describe slaves as three-fifths of a human. The case is currently being further investigated.
What makes the case even worse is that Charles May, a student housing assistant, knew of these racial occurrences. Fortunately, SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi supports Williams’ claims.
“The president of San Jose State has said the university has failed this young man, and it has,” Douglas told the Mercury News. “Our hope is this claim sparks a conversation about racial bullying that is occurring not just at San Jose State, but at UCLA, at the University of Michigan and other institutions of higher learning.”
Three of Williams’ former roommates who were allegedly involved in the harassments, Colin Warren, Joseph Bomgardner and Logan Beaschler, have been suspended from school and face battery and misdemeanor charges. Williams hopes that his case encourages conversation about treatment of Black students on campuses nationwide.
“When there can be this level of bullying at San Jose State University, a bastion of progressive thought, that should be a bellwether for everyone nationwide,” Douglas told Reuters. “I want there to be a conversation started by the filing of this claim… there are issues of racial intolerance, of bullying and of harassment running rampant in universities and colleges across this nation.”
It’s sad that Black students are still being mistreated and ignored anywhere, especially within institutions, like a university (which are meant to encourage open-thought). While racism is still alive and well in this country (covering that up is just as bad as partaking in it), students have the right to voice their mistreatment in a space where they want to learn, not to mention where they spend their dollars.
I think it’s noble for the SJSU president to stand by Williams. I hope Williams isn’t settling for people to just talk in a room about Black students being unhappy on campus. Filing a suit is a fantastic start, but I hope Williams rallies other students to create group action. The Harvard University students involved in the play “I, Too, Am Harvard,” illustrates exactly what it means to deliver a message through a planned group action. These students’ Tumblr post turned into a viral project with 19,000 page views; that’s 19,000 people who can see how specific problematic phrases can be interpreted.
But, what do you think, beauties? Should we be satisfied with just the start of a conversation or should we suggest more?
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