CARBONDALE, Ill. ― Racial tension on the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale campus is high after a series of recent incidents that include an anonymous video posted on YouTube that called for the lynching and beating of Black students.
The video drew condemnation from the university’s leader, and YouTube removed it Monday for violating the company’s policies on hate speech.
In an email to students Sunday night, interim Chancellor Brad Colwell asked students to not distribute the two-minute video, which features altered dialogue from the animated film “A Bug’s Life” and a speaker wearing a Guy Fawkes mask who promotes campus violence. The unidentified speaker, whose voice is distorted, attributes the “SIUC White is Right” video to the campus’ Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. The fraternity denied involvement in a statement issued by its national office in Indianapolis.
“Individuals who use the power of social media to spread hate and fear must not be allowed to be the voice of our community,” Colwell wrote in his email to students.
Colwell threatened unspecified legal action against the video’s creator, though campus spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said the university doesn’t know who is behind it.
“We have no reason to believe the fraternity is responsible,” she said.
The video follows a Black student’s complaint that student supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump used a racial slur and said Black students should “go back to Africa” at a recent Carbondale campus residence hall forum. The school is investigating that incident, which prompted another open letter from Colwell, in which he called on students to uphold “values of respect for individuals, diversity and inclusion.”
In between the two Colwell letters, someone drew a swastika on a residence hall chalkboard next to a message to “Build That Wall,” an apparent reference to Trump’s calls to curtail illegal immigration from Mexico.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to an AP request for comment Monday.