COLUMBIA, MO – University of Missouri President Mun Choi announced through a campus-wide email that Meg Miller, who went viral last month for stating “If They Would Have Killed 4 More N*ggers We Would Have Had the Whole Week Off,” will not receive any punishment or discipline from the school.
“Upon review, the student’s racial slur was expressed in a direct message to her friend and was not communicated in a way that harassed any individual. In that context, the speech is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Because we are a public institution, constrained by the First Amendment, OIE and OSAS concluded the university has no grounds to discipline the student who sent the message, even though it is diametrically opposed to our values.” – Mun Y. Choi, Ph.D., President at University of Missouri
It’s difficult to imagine what the university means when it says the statements are not punishable because they were not directed at any individual. In essence, this implies that you can make violent threats towards the entire race of Black people and it’s okay as long as you don’t single one of them out.
Many Black students are outraged by Choi’s update and the school not holding students like Miller accountable for their racist and heinous acts.
In a scathing letter to the community addressing the situation, Mizzou’s Legion of Black Collegians, wrote;
“The concerns of Black individuals continue to be ostracized, diminished, and downright neglected… Today’s decision, as blatantly wrong as it is, was easily predictable…The University of Missouri’s lack of action concerning this situation sends a clear message about who the university is intent on protecting… When there are tough calls to be made, the University of Missouri consistently chooses to align itself on the side of hate, and the response to this incident is merely another example.”
Sophomore University of Missouri student, Kaylyn Walker, who is a Senator with the Legion for Black Collegians, as well as the Vice Chair of Social Justice for the Missouri Students Association, told The Defender,
“Mizzou continues to protect its racist students day after day…They claim her statement wasn’t ‘directed’ at a student but it absolutely was directed towards the Black community and was very threatening speech.”
See the full University statement here;
Despite the University’s claim that Miller’s threats are protected by the First Amendment, many argue this isn’t true. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes that “Not all hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, since hateful expression can fall within certain, narrow categories of unprotected speech such as: Incitement to imminent lawless action (incitement); speech that threatens serious bodily harm (true threats); or speech that causes an immediate breach of the peace (fighting words).”
Additionally, although public universities have a high standard in order to regulate off-campus speech, if they can prove that the speech constitutes targeted harassment or a threat, or that it creates a safety concern/hostile environment for students, then it is not protected.
What Students Are Demanding
The Legion of Black Collegians made a list of demands for administrators to implement changes in the Code of Conduct as it pertains to the use of racial slurs from students.
The demands include “a complete and transparent review of university policies regarding hate speech, specifically the policies (or lack thereof) that allow students to spew hate speech and threatening language without repercussions,” as well as “the University of Missouri institute new comprehensive policies that take assertive stances against racism on this campus.”
Since the 2015 forced resignation of previous, disgraced University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe (for neglecting to address racism) and the installment of current President Mun Choi, students say virtually nothing has been done to address the viciously prevalent white supremacy on campus. In fact, in December before Miller’s post exploded across social media, students organized a separate rally on campus after white supremacist propaganda had been posted around the university.
In an email sent out by Choi regarding the racist propaganda situation, he wrote that the university condemned hateful speech, yet refused to specifically condemn the posters that were plastered all over the university’s campus.
Rather than seeking to alleviate these issues, the university has doubled down on its problematic behavior in recent years.
This is a developing story.