• Lynda Cohen

Racist post sparks call to expel Stockton student

Social media posts by two Stockton University students have garnered anger and petitions calling for the expulsion.

One includes a young white woman identified as a university nursing student with black makeup streaked across her face, and a sign on her forehead saying, “I’m a n-----,” with a smiley face.

“I am outraged and saddened by recent reports of racist actions and social media posts by members of the Stockton community,” Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said in a statement released Saturday. Under the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the school is limited on what information can be shared about students. “We have been made aware of two incidents, and they are currently under investigation,” he said. “By law, we are precluded from disclosing our actions related to student conduct or personnel matters.”

But some students are questioning what is being done, and why the students have not been removed.

“Stockton prides itself on diversity and inclusion, but we do not feel included,” a spokesman for the Unified Black Students Society told BreakingAC.

While the student has not been identified by the school, others have identified her as Shelby Israel.

A petition to have the nursing student expelled has surpassed 5,000 signatures.

She could not be reached for comment.

Another student, Gunnar Pearson, also is the target of a petition after several posts on Twitter.

“Imagine flying the flag in a country that you’re so happy to be in and gets ripped down by twisted fruit bags. That’s a joke, boy would get a 9mm down his throat,” he wrote in one.

“Are you kidding, that’s racist!???” Pearson wrote in a retweet of the petition against him. “They all are literally going by media and not looking for the back facts as to why I said what was in my tweets. For talking it has gotten this, silent ones please for the love of god help it’s sickening.”

In a later post, he apologized for the content and its interpretation. But he has since locked his Twitter so that only followers can see his posts.

Students say the school has written both off as freedom of speech.

“This is bogus,” the Unified Black Students Society wrote in an Instagram post. “You claim to want to create a safe space for your students. WELL WE DON’T FEEL SAFE! How can you expect us to walk amongst students with such heinous views?”

In his statement, Kesselman mentioned that “freedom of speech and civil dialogue are among the most sacred rights in our country, which we, at Stockton University, have pledged to protect since our founding almost 50 years ago by promoting critical thinking and encouraging diverse points of view.”

He then continued, “At Stockton, however, we will never tolerate words of hate that denigrate others.”

Kesselman said that in the coming week, students will gather online to receive support, learn how to support each other and share their stories.

“More opportunities are under development,” he said.

Students who see racist or violent posts are told to submit a Bias Incident Reporting Form.

They are also urged to report any criminal conduct or threatening behavior to the Stockton University Police Department.


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