Post-Election Backlash Strikes at Hampden-Sydney - Higher Education

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Post-Election Backlash Strikes at Hampden-Sydney

by Steve Szkotak, Associated Press

Hampden-Sydney

The private school located about 60 miles southwest of Richmond, Va., generally is known for its decorum and honor code.

RICHMOND Va. — About 40 students at Hampden-Sydney College shouted racial slurs, threw bottles and set off fireworks outside the Minority Student Union within hours after President Barack Obama’s re-election, the tiny, all-male school informed parents Thursday. The disturbance early Wednesday also included threats of physical violence, President Chris Howard said in the email to parents.

The racially tinged incident is the second reported protest sparked by Obama’s re-election. A protest at the University of Mississippi in Jackson late Tuesday involved about 400 people who shouted racial slurs. Two people were arrested.

Members of the Minority Student Union notified campus police of the gathering outside their house. An investigation is under way.

“I am terribly disappointed with the students who participated in this harmful, senseless episode including those men who stood idly by and watched it happen,” wrote Howard, the college’s first African-American president. “There is no place for bigotry or racism on this campus.”

Howard said offenders will be adjudicated by the campus justice system. He said nearly 300 members of the campus community gathered at a “town hall” meeting Wednesday night to discuss what happened.

“I was moved by the responses of our students, their condemnation of the incident, and their heartfelt appeals to brotherhood,” Howard said.

Hampden-Sydney, located about 60 miles southwest of Richmond, has a Black enrollment approaching 9 percent of its 1,080 students. The private, tradition-bound school was founded in 1775 and is one of only three all-male colleges in the U.S.

The campus is known for its decorum and honor code. Visitors are greeted by passers-by; backpacks are left lying around without fear of theft; and students dress in coat and tie for football balls.

Students are expected to adhere to two standards of honorable behavior:

“The Hampden-Sydney student will behave as a gentleman at all times and in all places.”

“The Hampden-Sydney student will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.”

Its former students have included a president, William Henry Harrison, and comedian Stephen Colbert.

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