The president of the University of Rhode Island is condemning what he describes as a “racist video” involving at least one former member of the men’s track and field team.
The video, which surfaced over the weekend, features someone who appears to be a current member of the URI track team and is posted to the since-deleted account of a former team member.
“The University learned [Friday] of at least two of our students allegedly involved in the posting of a racist video on social media,” URI president Marc B. Parlange wrote in a statement. “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.”
Monty Valles, a local youth football coach, posted a screen grab to Twitter on Friday of a video from the TikTok account of Brendan Cesati, who was listed on the URI men’s track roster as a freshman in 2020-21 season but not on the 2021-22 team. Cesati is from North Andover, Massachusetts.
In the video, the operator of the camera holds up a piece of watermelon and asks a blond man to his left, “Do you want some watermelon?” The man replies, “I’m all right.” The camera pans right with the watermelon, then back left. The man, whose face is now covered in what appears to be barbecue sauce, takes a large bite while the operator of the video recorder and others at the table laugh.
Parlange’s statement said: “URI will follow university policies and procedures regarding this issue and will work toward a swift resolution.”
The URI director of athletics, Thorr Bjorn, and the men’s track and field coach, Trent Baltzell, did not respond to emails with questions about the video.
A direct message sent to Cesati’s Instagram account in search of a comment also did not receive a response and his TikTok account no longer exists.