Cover, News, Politics, Student Organization

UM College Republicans members make racist comments during club meeting

This story was updated at 2:58 p.m. to reflect comment The Hurricane received from Nasir Mason.

In a now-viral social media post, an unidentified student who was tasked with attending a University of Miami College Republicans meeting said they were shocked by the slurs and offensive language club members were using during the course of the club’s meeting, demanding the university investigate the club’s behavior.

According to pictures of the Zoom chat during their official meeting on Monday obtained by The Miami Hurricane, members were caught referring to Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris in offensive terms.

2019 UM graduate Nasir Mason, who was under the alias Kanye West in the Zoom meeting, called Harris, “Cum-a-la Harris”; UMCR member and undergraduate student in the business school Elizabeth von Dietrich said, “She smells like cocoa butter” as a reference to the common product used by the Black community. Another account, listed as “Henry and Dominick” chimed in, saying Harris “smells like sulfur and brimstone,” and UM undergraduate student Drew Cheskin then added, “dried semen.”

Scroll to view the following gallery showing screenshots of the Zoom chat from UMCR’s meeting held on Monday, Nov. 2. 

 

Dietrich and Cheskin did not immediately respond to requests for comment. When reached via telephone, UMCR president Andrew Hefley declined to comment for this article.  After the story was published, Mason reached out to The Hurricane, claiming he routinely attends these meetings to “troll” the club’s members.

“Since I have been at UM, I have always trolled the CRS,” Mason told The Hurricane. “My friends knew I went to their meetings to troll them and blend in to see what they were saying… I like to troll groups who I don’t agree with and see what responses I get.”

The student in a lengthy post on social media, which has since been re-shared numerous times, said they were embarrassed by the behavior they saw during this meeting.

“It’s honestly so embarrassing that I go to the nation’s 49th best school… and this toxic behavior and rhetoric is spewed by students of the university, despite them being top of their class to even be able to get in,” the student wrote. “This behavior and rhetoric is toxic and unacceptable.”

Because nonmembers and unfamiliar people were at the meeting, the student wrote members said they did not want to show any memes because it would be “unwise and unsafe” to.

Additionally, one unknown individual was caught using slurs like “fag” and referenced the “n” word.

Junior Anne Jean Baptiste, a public health and international studies major, said she was not surprised by the behavior because the university has yet to take any action despite students expressing concerns over the club’s rhetoric previously.

“I understand that it is the right of the UM College Republicans to support the presidential candidate of their party but the extent that UM has allowed them to go directly contributed to this behavior,” Baptiste said. “They are acting with impunity, from the excessive display of campaigning on campus, to the inflammatory speech of their members because they know the university will continue to protect them without regard for the feelings of students who belong to the identities that are constantly under attack by that candidate.”

This comes as tension rises among the campus community after UMCR began hanging pro-trump signs all around campus. The first sign that was hung up was vandalized with black paint, leading to President Julio Frenk sending a letter denouncing the vandalism. As a result, the club decided to place around 300 pro-Trump signs across the Foote Green.

Despite many students and faculty expressing their concerns over the signs, the university has continued to stand by the club, saying the signs followed proper policies and procedures.

In a recording posted to YouTube yesterday, Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia Whitely is heard meeting with students who were demonstrating by the Trump signs in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Whitely informed the students that because Trump was running for president there was nothing she could do about the signs, and said that the procedures of the school were followed.

This is not the first report of UMCR making offensive comments. Just last week, a UM student who requested anonymity presented years of private messages on Whatsapp where UMCR members were making jokes about transgender people and the coronavirus, calling it “kung flu.”

After the images of the chat from the zoom meeting began spreading around students, sophomore Mia Porter emailed Ryan Holmes asking the university to look into this incident.

“I have attached the screenshots and tried to make out as many names as I could, but each of their meetings and chats should be investigated by the university,” Porter wrote in the email. “A lot of this rhetoric is completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated by the university in any way, shape or form.”

In response to the email, Holmes said, “Thank you, and others, for making us aware. We will investigate the matter.” UM administrators were not immediately made available for comment.

 

November 3, 2020

Reporters

Naomi Feinstein


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.