Case Study: UMW and MU Response to Threats on Social Media- Kam Tavarez


It is no secret that discrimination of all forms exists on college campuses throughout the nation. These discriminations range from all aspects of life, including sex and race. It is very unlikely that discriminations on campuses will go away, although the response from colleges and universities around the nation can help to at least reduce the presence of it if they respond the right way. For this last reaction paper I will be taking a look at the similarities and differences between the responses of two universities in regards to discriminatory threats. The university’s I will be looking at are, our very own, Mary Washington and the University of Missouri.

Earlier this year our university faced a lot of heat due to threats made on the social media site Yik Yak against members of the feminist united. The members of the feminist united as well as some student’s felt that the university did not respond in an appropriate manner. There was the perception that the university ignored reports of serious threats made against these members. The president of our university has also responded to the situation in ways that students felt weren’t appropriate, or sincere. The heat intensified against the university when one of the members of feminist united was murdered not long after a threat was made on Yik Yak. Many felt as if the lack of response from the university was a factor that led to her death. Some thought that maybe if the university would’ve taken these threats seriously this tragedy could’ve been avoided. The approach taken by Mary Washington lead to a tittle ix complaint against the university.

Just earlier this month a similar situation occurred at the University of Missouri, also involving the social media site Yik Yak. Instead of sexist threats the University of Missouri faced racial threats against its African American students. These racial threats come at a time where our whole country is affected by ongoing acts of discrimination and racism by police as well as our normal day-to-day citizens. The threats made on Yik Yak at The University of Missouri were direct threats, which included locations and specific dates when people were going to target any black student on campus. One of these threats stated “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.”

African American students at the university felt unsafe and threatened and reported this situation to school administration. One student at the university tweeted to the Universities alert system “There is a @MUalert right now because black students are in danger. White people are threatening to harm black students.” In which the alert system respond that there was no immediate threat on campus, similar to the response given to members of the feminist united at our own university. Although the initial response by the administration of the University of Missouri was very dismissive students protest and efforts pushed for a much stronger response, which they received.

After the initial dismissive response, the lash back from the African American student community on campus led the university to take a much stronger approach, including, but not limited to the resignation of the resignation of the president of the university. One African American student on campus went on a hunger strike, and vowed to remain on that strike until the president was removed. Upon the resignation students celebrated the change that they help make. The president of the Missouri Student Association sent out a tweet after the removal of the universities president saying, “NEVER underestimate the power of students. Our voices WILL be heard.” The universities response does not stop there. They went on to work with local law enforcement and Yik Yak to find the people involved in posting these threats. So far their efforts have resulted in 3 arrests. These efforts are a significant approach that I believe should be taken on all campuses. By taking threats serious the university prevent an act of domestic terrorism on their campus.

The approach taken by the University of Missouri made me question our campus and why our administration did not conduct a deeper investigation on the threats made against specific members of feminist united. Taking theses threats seriously could’ve possibly saved a life. It is no secret that social media has a significant influence on campuses all over our nation; the key to fighting negative influences is in the response. Universities need to take notes from each other and learn from each other in order to come up with a good tactic in effort to fight situations like this.


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