URI condemns ‘racist’ video on social media | News

KINGSTON, R.I. — The president of the University of Rhode Island has condemned a racist TikTok video that reportedly involves two URI students.  

In the clip, the person recording the video holds a slice of watermelon and offers it to a man, who declines it. The camera then moves off the man for a few seconds and when it returns, he is in blackface. The man then proceeds to eat the watermelon slice.

The TikTok video and its associated account appear to have been deleted, but not before it was posted on other social media accounts that condemned the act.

Some who saw the video, including a former URI student, said the students are members of URI’s men’s track and field team.

URI President Marc B. Parlange said Friday the university is “committed to rejecting racism in all its forms.”

“The video appeared to promulgate racist stereotypes about Black people and was a stinging reminder of the long road URI and America has to travel to truly achieve justice, equity, diversity and inclusion on campus and in society,” Parlange said.

“URI will follow university policies and procedures regarding this issue and will work towards a swift resolution.”

This is not the first time Parlange has addressed alleged racist behavior by URI students. Last October, the university was in the spotlight after a student sent a racist message to Miami Dolphins football player Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbah, who said he normally ignores such comments, posted it on his Twitter account and said the racist message was uncalled for.

URI called the comments “horrific” and racist.

In that case, the matter was referred to the university’s student conduct process review for a conduct hearing. The outcome of that hearing is unknown.

Due to the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the university cannot release an accused individual’s name or information about what decision is made following a hearing.

As it did in October, the university on Friday offered resources for any URI community members who need support, including referrals to Community, Equity and Diversity, and the Multicultural Student Services Center and URI’s Counseling Center.

“I want to remind everyone that we are one community and that we are steadfast in our commitment to building a welcoming, just and equitable university,” Parlange said.

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