JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A social media video that appears to show two white University of North Florida students mocking black students by making monkey sounds prompted one campus group to stage a sit-in Monday morning in the university president's office.
About two dozen students said they were protesting what they called inaction by the school administration regarding the Snapchat video.
Students for a Democratic Society wants punishment for the three students involved in the video, which shows two people, who look to be in a dorm room, jumping up and down and making monkey sounds.
The three involved with the video are being investigated, according to the university.
The original caption across the Snapchat video reads, "What actually went on at the BML rally."
Zack Morse, the student who posted the video, told the UNF campus newspaper that the caption was not a typo and that the entire incident was a misunderstanding.
But students involved with SDS said the video of white students mocking black students, which followed a Black Lives Matter rally on campus, is unacceptable.
“We're here this morning because we saw the video, along with thousands of people at the school, along with thousands of people online, and we're just showing the administration that we're taking a stand against racism and against hate here at UNF,” said Monique Williamson, president of SDS. “We're mobilizing and hoping to get the administration's attention, so swifter action can be taken.”
SDS said other organizations, like the UNF Black Student Union, are also demanding that the students involved in the video be suspended and sanctioned. Morse has declined to identify the two males in the video.
UNF student activist Tionna Seabrook said the video is an indication of a larger issue.
“We have an extremely unfortunate problem with racism on this campus,” Seabrook said. "All we requested was that the students involved would be suspended. I don’t think that’s ridiculous or unreasonable And that has not happened yet."
UNF president John Delaney met with the sit-in students Monday, asking them for patience as the university continues to investigate the Snapchat video.
“It takes a couple of weeks. Anything less than that, you are rushing to justice. And what we get limited on is if there are student privacy things that we can’t talk about, and you really can’t talk about things in the middle of an investigation, so you are really handcuffed,” Delaney said.
SDS said it also wants to see changes at the campus, including seeing more diversity and university leaders take a stand against racism.
Delaney said those kinds of changes can't happen overnight.
“We want these voices heard. We're not going to be able to always stop stupid acts. We're going to do our best to try to minimize them. I hope people don't identify the university with the acts of three 18-year-old students. I hope that isn't where they go.”
Williamson and other activists said they felt the meeting with Delaney was a step in the right direction, but they have a long way to go.
“I feel like this is the start of some action being taken,” said Donique Wray with the UNF Black Student Union.
Delaney said a decision on any punishment the three students involved in the racist video might face will come within the next few days. He said he respects all students’ rights to free speech.
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