Last Friday morning, hundreds of students attending Franklin and Marshall College protested racist costumes that depict offensive stereotypes relating to people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. of worn by five student-athletes on Halloween. The students in question were from the men’s basketball and soccer teams. The photos were posted on social media but have since been removed from the platforms.
The students, who have received death threats and significant backlash for their actions, are currently going through the student conduct process. According to the Franklin and Marshall Student Code, “The student conduct process is intended to be a learning experience which yields growth, behavioral changes, and a personal understanding of the responsibilities, consequences, and impacts of actions. Outcomes are designed to balance education with accountability and community safety. This process balances the needs and rights of students with the needs and expectations of the College.” This process will also determine what kinds of punishment are necessary and appropriate for the students.
In an interview with WGAL, Margaret Hazlett, the school’s vice president said of the incidents, “There are important issues that every community is facing, every college campus. But it’s with us right now at F&M.” However, this is not the first problem that Franklin and Marshall has encountered relating to racism.
Early this past October, an anti-Asian racial slur was found outside of a student’s dorm room. In 2016, one student drew a swastika in the middle of a Jewish star that was found in a classroom. Also in 2016, Fraternity students were in hot water for dressing up as racially insensitive stereotypes of black prison inmates for their Halloween costumes.
Dan Wagner, coach for the men’s soccer team, told WGAL that these are good kids who made a mistake. “I will do anything I possibly can to stand with anyone,” Wagner said of the protests.
Students do not think the school is doing enough in response to these offensive costumes. The protests at the college have occurred near Tylus Field at F&M, which is the school’s soccer field, while the students chant “F&M is unfair, the administration doesn’t care” and “no justice, no peace.” Before that, the students protested outside of the administration building. While they protested near the soccer field, they were not allowed on the field itself.
They aren’t just protesting on the soccer field; the students staged a sit-in on the school’s basketball court just before a game between F&M and York College, which was supposed to be the first game of the season for both teams. The basketball game was then postponed to a later date due to the sit-in, but the later date has not been determined as of late.
According to a current Franklin and Marshall Diversity Report, undergraduate students come out to be almost 57% Caucasian, almost 10% Hispanic, about 6% African American, and 5% Asian. The remaining 22% of undergraduate students’ ethnicities are either unknown or is a nonresident alien, meaning that these students are exempt or have not passed their Green Card tests.
According to Hazlett, the college is planning on hiring official personnel to analyze and take control of racially charged incidents, such as this one, but this person would not begin their position until the upcoming spring semester.
Students do not believe this is effective enough and are continuing to protest. The student-athletes who wore the offensive Halloween costumes’ punishments have yet to be determined at this time.