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Rhodes College Criticized for Slow Response to Racist Incident

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A student leader and his organization have criticized Rhodes College in Tennessee over the school’s slow and unclear response to recent racist and anti-Semitic incidents on campus.

Men of Distinction president Kofi Whitehead is calling on school administrators to immediately act on an incident in which a banana was taped to the dorm room door of two Black students. Whitehead said he personally knows the people who were targeted.

In a statement posted on social media, the organization acknowledged that many people consider the incident a simple joke that went too far. However, it asked the college how playing on racial stereotypes became a source of humor.

“How is making the conscious choice to racially target black and brown students funny? It is embarrassing that the racism on campus is often painted as a prank and how ignorance is used as a shield to protect those that wish to harm others,” the organization remarked.

Whitehead believes that campus administrators may have been working to address the issue. However, he expected Rhodes to be more up front in resolving the incident because it happened in a public place and students were able to see it across social media. “You can’t have an incident happen and it’s so loud and the apology’s a whisper,” the student leader told Commercial Appeal.

Rhodes Response

Rhodes Interim President Carroll D. Stevens said that any incident on-campus that makes students and employees feel unsafe or unwelcome, regardless of its intentions, does not align with the values promoted by the school.

He also encouraged every member of the Rhodes community to avoid racial discrimination and intervene if they witness it.

A spokesperson stated that Rhodes expects the results of an initial investigation by Tuesday. The report will supposedly determine if a violation of the student code of conduct was committed.

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