On Campus

Should racist rants on YouTube lead to expulsion?

Asian students mocked for 'checking on everybody from the tsunami thing.'

A student at the University of California in Los Angeles recently posted a video on YouTube in which she ranted about Asian students at her school, complaining about the “hordes of Asian people” who talk on cell phones in the library. She spoke in a fake Asian language at one point, and complained about Japanese students calling home about the tsunami and earthquake.

“I swear they’re going through their whole families, just checking on everybody from the tsunami thing. I mean, I know, that sounds horrible. I feel sorry for all the people affected by the tsunami,” she said during the three minute video.

“But if you’re going to go call your address book, like you might as well go outside, because, if something is wrong, you might really freak out and you’re in the library, and everybody’s quiet. Like, you seriously should go outside if you’re going to do that.”

After the video went viral, gathering millions of views and creating a serious backlash, Alexandra Wallace, the third-year political sciences student who posted the video, issued an apology on Monday. Apparently campus officials are still considering whether the video warrants disciplinary action.

When I first heard about the video (a commenter posted a link in my last blog post) I was shocked and disturbed that someone would not only think this way, but actually post a three minute rant on YouTube. But it gets even worse: the student was apparently planning on creating a series of videos.

“My daughter wants to start a blog,” her father wrote on Facebook, saying that she’s asking for domain suggestions for “Asians on their cellphones in the library.”

An editorial in the New York Times argues that although the student is rightly being criticized for her racist video, “the university would do a great disservice to itself and the First Amendment if it goes ahead and disciplines her for the content of her words.” The editorial categorizes her offensive words as an “ethnic slur” rather than a “form of harassment against a group of students.”

In other words, the First Amendment could protect her from being officially sanctioned in any way by her university. Of course, her racist rant on YouTube might follow her around for a while, providing an unofficial document for future employers to one day consider.

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