031116-nws-siu-cuts-2.jpg (copy)

Students walk through campus on a rainy afternoon in March.

CARBONDALE — A Southern Illinois University student’s impassioned allegations of racism on campus have prompted university officials to launch an investigation.

The video contains mature language. 

Racism at SIUC. I'm at my residence hall and all I hear is TRUMP 2016. The same group of kids in a fraternity ( ATO) drew Trump 2016 and various racial slurs with chalk on the ground and on campus monuments. The campus did NOTHING about it. They had 2 publicly open discussions in the hallway that were completely and utterly racist. Asking black ppl to go back to Africa , throwing the "N" word around like it was nothing. So I walked my BLACK ASS downstairs and asked them to say it in my face. Call me nigga , call me a good for nothing welfare recipient like I'm not here paying MORE than you. Y'all get ahead with handed scholarships , and grants while the poor will be lucky if they see either or. The Residence Assistant on their floor stood in solidarity WITH THEM. Who do you go to when your oppressors are your authority? The craziest part about it is that these are the ppl I will compete against in CORPRATE AMERICA. These are ppl I will potentially work with side by side. They have no respect for not only me as an individual , but my entire RACE. How do I tell my sisters and brothers that it's safer fighting for your education than it is in the streets of Chicago. The reality is that neither is easy. All you can do is strive harder.

Posted by Leilani Bartlett on Monday, April 4, 2016

Leilani Bartlett, a freshman whose Facebook page lists her hometown as Chicago, posted a three-minute video to Facebook late Monday night alleging that student supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump levied racial epithets and hurtful language during two open forum meetings at her dormitory that night.

“They said the #blacklivesmatter movement was retarded,” Bartlett, who is black, said in the video. “They told us to go back to Africa. They saying the “N” word, calling us n------, all types of stuff.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 100,000 times and shared more than 4,000 times.

SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said someone made a formal complaint about the incident, leading the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to launch an investigation in coordination with the Office of Diversity and Equity.

“We’re taking it very seriously,” she said. “We care a lot about the welcoming nature of our campus. It’s really important to us that our students feel safe and secure here.”

As the video spread far and wide, SIU Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell issued a university-wide statement, calling on students to uphold the university’s “core community values of respect for individuals, diversity and inclusion.”

“Anything less diminishes all of us,” he said. “Free speech is an important right and value. It is also important to use that right wisely and respectfully.”

In her video, Bartlett described herself as a first-generation college student and an entrepreneur who’s trying to make it, despite significant obstacles. Though she’s all for students expressing their political views, she said the Trump meeting crossed the line.

“You could believe anything that you want to believe, but it’s the point where it gets disrespectful,” she said. “Me and my friends are the minority in this residence hall, meaning it’s a handful of us, and the rest are predominantly white. You are openly discussing racism and being racist.”

Bartlett, tears running down her cheeks, said the incident made her feel unsafe, and she worried what might happen at night.

Still, she ended her video with a clarion call: “If you’re at a predominantly … white institution, and they trying to make you feel uncomfortable, they trying to shrink you, at the end of the day all you can do is continue to be you. All you can do is never let that s--- get to you and keep being successful.”

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.





Load comments