This afternoon, students from the CC and SEAS Class of 2025 were contacted by the Dean of Undergraduate Student Life and the Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs in response to anti-Black comments made in a GroupMe chat.
Content warning: This article contains images and mention of anti-Black comments made by students.
Cristen Kromm, the Dean of Undergraduate Student Life, and Melinda Aquino, the Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs, reached out to CC and SEAS students on behalf of the bias response team for Columbia College and Columbia Engineering regarding anti-Black messages sent in a class-wide GroupMe chat. The email, sent on Friday afternoon, firmly noted that the interactions did not reflect Columbia’s values. The Deans emphasized Columbia’s dedication to inclusivity in their living and learning environments, reminding students of the responsibility they all share in respecting individuals in the community. The full text of the email can be found below.
The Deans addressed the concept of bias and its roots in “fear, misunderstanding, hatred, or stereotypes, or lack of exposure to other communities,” encouraging students to support those directly harmed in this incident and any others. Students were prompted to recall the Step Up! Bystander Intervention Model they were introduced to during NSOP and to utilize the program in situations where intervention is needed.
The email also affirmed that those involved with the incident will be contacted in an effort to offer support and listen to their concerns; Kromm and Aquino make the assertion that they understand the harmful impact of this incident, whether students were directly or indirectly involved. In addition, these resources will be extended to any other communities or students affected, due to the public nature of the incident. A follow-up might include education led by the Multicultural Affairs staff.
Kromm and Aquino concluded their message by welcoming students to learn about “when, how, and why to report bias incidents,” to use the resources available to them, and to reach out to their residence hall directors or the bias response team (who can be contacted at email@example.com) with any concerns about this incident or any others.
The University has not yet publicly addressed whether the students who made the comments will face disciplinary action.
Screenshots of anti-Black comments made by students in GroupMe:
Email sent to Columbia College and Columbia Engineering Class of 2025 on Friday at 3:13 pm:
Dear Members of the Class of 2025,
We are reaching out to your entire class on behalf of the bias response team for Columbia College and Columbia Engineering in response to multiple reports we have received related to a series of recent exchanges and anti-Black comments within a GroupMe chat open to much of the first-year student population. It is important for us to state unequivocally, particularly to our newest Columbians, that these interactions do not reflect the values of our community.
Fostering an inclusive living and learning environment is the shared responsibility of our community, founded upon the fundamental dignity and worth of all of its members. We must all participate in actively upholding these values both in our personal actions and in our roles as bystanders.
Bias may stem from fear, misunderstanding, hatred, stereotypes, or lack of exposure to other communities. It may be intentional or unintentional. It is crucial that we all support those who have been directly harmed through bias-related incidents and provide opportunities for our community to learn and grow, both proactively and responsively. You were introduced to the Step Up! Bystander Intervention Model during NSOP, and we encourage each of you to consider situations where you might step in and what that intervention might look like.
Our team takes bias reports seriously and is in the process of contacting students directly involved to hear their concerns and offer support. We understand how acts that impact identities and invalidate experiences can be deeply hurtful and upsetting to those both directly and indirectly involved.
Given the visible nature of this situation within an online community open broadly to members of the incoming class, we would like to assure any other students or communities who may have been impacted that an array of support and community resources are available. Potential follow-up steps also include education led by Multicultural Affairs staff in partnership with others on-campus.
You are always welcome to reach out to the bias response team – firstname.lastname@example.org – or your residence hall director if you have been impacted and would like to discuss this recent incident, or any others. We encourage everyone to learn more about when, how, and why to report bias incidents, and the resources available to anyone affected by bias.
Dean of Undergraduate Student Life
Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs
Editor’s note: Bwog condemns the anti-Blackness demonstrated in these messages, at our institution, and throughout the world. Black Lives Matter.
photos via Bwog archives and staff