FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — More than 7,400 signatures are on a change.org petition asking for the expulsion of two University of Arkansas (UA) students who are seen on a video seemingly mocking George Floyd’s death.
The video shows two Sigma Chi fraternity members reenacting what looks like Floyd’s death.
Floyd, 46, died on Memorial Day while in police custody after a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck.
The change.org petition is to UA’s Chancellor Steinmetz. It was created by Delayne Coleman who is the president of UA’s 2020 National Pan-Hellenic — a division of Student Affairs Greek Life.
CHANGE.ORG PETITION READS IN PART:
“We call for the expulsion of the 2 students involved in the video, the suspension of their Fraternity, and finally a statement from Greek Life, the Fraternity, and the University emphasizing their condemnation of these vulgar actions.
In light of the insensitive Snapchat video that surfaced on Twitter, we demand that both of these students reap the consequences for their actions. In a recent statement, you said that we must “promote an inclusive environment where equity, opportunity, representation, and civility are valued” well now is the time to ACT on your words. If these actions go unpunished, what message does that send to the potential African American students considering the University of Arkansas? How does this make them feel that our campus is an inclusive community in which equality is valued if this is allowed to go unpenalized?
Students on campus look up to UARK Greek Life and admire them for their leadership skills and this was an insensitive and disgusting way for these 2 students to use their platform. Because of this, we demand that the students be held accountable not only for hazing, which is against Arkansas State law but for the cultural insensitivity that not only represents themselves and their fraternity but ultimately the University as a whole.
The UA addressed the mocking video on Tuesday, June 2, and is investigating the incident. It states:
Any U of A student found responsible for violating the Code of Student Life will face sanctions through the Code of Student Life process. Federal student privacy laws limit the release of student disciplinary action. The disturbing activities and captions in the video do not reflect our values and are contrary to our principles and priorities. We stand together to condemn this video and the message it sends.
According to UA’s Division of Student Affairs Student Standards and Conduct there are five actions that may be taken when students don’t uphold the university’s values.
- University Reprimand: cases of minor violations, students will be placed on a warning status for 1 calendar year.
- University Censure: a warning similar to, but more serious than, a University Reprimand. A student may be placed on University Censure for a specified period not to exceed a student’s graduation.
- Conduct Probation: this sanction is imposed when a student’s actions are found to be serious, but not serious enough to warrant Suspension or Expulsion. The disciplinary authority shall indicate the length of the probationary period.
- Suspension: involves the withdrawal of enrollment privileges for a specified period of time and ordinarily carries with it conditions that must be met for re-enrollment. During the period of suspension, the student may not come onto campus, except when specifically authorized in writing by the VCSA or designee.
- Expulsion: permanent dismissal from the University.
On Monday, June 1, the Omega Omega Chapter of Sigma Chi, a fraternity the two students were part of, expelled them.
A portion of Omega Omega Chapter of Sigma Chi statement:
The Omega Omega Chapter of Sigma Chi was horrified to learn of an incident over the weekend which involved two members of the chapter acting in a manner inconsistent with Sigma Chi’s values. While this incident was in no way connected to our fraternity, we have begun the process of expelling these individuals from the chapter. The former members have expressed their sincerest remorse and regret their actions and have acknowledged that being removed from membership in Sigma Chi is an appropriate response. — Matthew Nichols, Consul/President of the Omega Omega Chapter of Sigma Chi.
Office for Diversity and Inclusion Vice-Chancellor Dr. Yvette Murphy-Erby statement:
The Office for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Arkansas grieves and mourns for the loss of life, including George Floyd, that has occurred recently and in the past because of racial violence, inequitable systems and the presence of disparities rooted in long-standing historical trajectories, inequitable practices and systemic structures.
We stand in solidarity with efforts to achieve a world where racism is ended through inclusive practices, and we continue to be committed to action that will move our campus forward in this regard. Safety, belonging, justice, equity, and peace should apply to all members of our community and society regardless of the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, or other identities. These ideas embody the Diversity and Inclusion priority for the University of Arkansas, and we stand in solidarity with efforts to achieve a world that is anti-racist and inclusive.
We are committed to action that will move our campus forward in this regard. Efforts that strengthen diversity and inclusion must be embedded in all that we say and all that we do in our teaching, research, and service efforts — just as it is embedded in the mission of the University of Arkansas. Our work to support a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and anti-racist campus environment (and world) matters and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion will work tirelessly to support our campus community in taking positive action that fosters safety, belonging, justice, equity, and peace.
UA Black Alumni Society President Ritche Manley Bowden statement:
Over the past few years, we have bore witness to the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, and hundreds of others who did not gain national media attention. The notion that Black lives don’t matter is a result of the systemic racism and oppression of Black people and it continues today.
As president of the Black Alumni Society, I see the role of organizations, like ours, advocating for and expecting accountability, change, and justice in these systems—this includes even our most beloved institutions. We look forward to working with others on this change. No person should have to fear to be in their home, going for a run, spending time in a park, or interacting with law enforcement. Our lives matter.