SIUC student speaks out on racism, prompts university action

SIUC student speaks out on racism, prompts university action

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - An outraged African American student's now viral video alleging racism on campus has stirred action by administrators at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

In a three minute Live video post on Facebook April 4, Leilani Bartlett, alleges students held multiple racist discussions inside her SIUC residence hall.

The students whom she later confronted were supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Bartlett alleged.

"Racism at SIUC. I'm at my residence hall and all I hear is TRUMP 2016," Bartlett wrote in her Facebook post.

Bartlett broke down in tears during her heated three minute video.

"How do I tell my sisters and brothers that it's safer fighting for your education than it is in the streets of Chicago," Bartlett wrote in her Facebook post . "The reality is that neither is easy. All you can do is strive harder."

Bartlett is a freshman student from Chicago, according to her Facebook page. Her Facebook video has been viewed more than 150,000 times and shared more than 5,400 times.

"Asking black ppl to go back to Africa , throwing the 'N-word' around like it was nothing," Bartlett wrote in her Facebook post.

The video prompted intervention by SIUC Interim Chancellor Brad Colewell and Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Lori Stettler. The two administrators issued an April 7 message to all students concerning racial issues on campus.

"It is essential that all members of the university community reflect our core community values of respect for individuals, diversity and inclusion," the message to students wrote. "Anything less diminishes all of us. Free speech is an important right and value. It is also important to use that right wisely and respectfully."

The university has launched an investigation into the incident, but could not comment further, according to University Spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith.

"The goal of any investigation under the Student Conduct Code is to determine if there was any violation of the code," Goldsmith wrote in an email.

Interim Chancellor Colewell did however remind students in an April 8 email, that even speech considered inappropriate or hateful is protected under law.

However, he urged students to report any speech considered threatening.

In the meantime, Colewell has asked staff in the university's Center for Inclusive Excellence and the Office of Diversity and Equity to develop a plan promoting conversations and workshops on diversity.

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