Zero tolerance for hate speech at the University at Albany

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I am writing to you with regard to two UAlbany students, Farrah Sanford and Joey Zigrossi. I am beseeching you to expel these students from the University at Albany on the grounds that they are preaching hateful speech, which is directly in violation of our community values of diversity and inclusion. If there truly is zero tolerance for this type of behavior, I implore you to take disciplinary action against these students.

The email that you sent out to the student body addressed these clear hateful and racist messages as an issue as “freedom of speech”, and brushed it under the table. However, for a White boy to use the N-word as a slur against Black people, and for a Swastika to be maliciously tattooed on a student’s body, which demonstrates a clear racist intention (not to mention the history of oppression, pain, and hatred that symbol possess), is clearly no longer an issue of freedom of speech. 

 Freedom of speech does not cover obscenities, speech inciting discrimination or lawless action, or fighting words, The Supreme Court holds that speech is unprotected if “it intends to incite an immediate breech to the peace, or a personally abusive word when addressed to the ordinary citizen, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke a violent action”. In this time of rioting, as people who have been oppressed for more than 400 years lash out justifiably in their pain and anger to seek change, would you not agree that racial slurs and messages of hate clearly meant to incite violence and anger are in direct violation of what constitutes as freedom of speech, and are therefore unprotected by the Supreme Court?

In this time of rebirth and suffering, we are trying to unite and come together as a people to dismantle the white supremacy prevalent in so many of our institutions. For a SUNY school to demonstrate in such an obvious manner that they do not support this movement, to take no measures to rectify these issues, nor help to give a voice to those who are stepped on by hateful people like this, is so incredibly disappointing. We expected more from you. As a diverse school, we are told our voices are meant to be heard, and that as valued students, we have rights. Yet, the email sent out with such an incredibly nonchalant and blase manner was so incredibly tone-deaf. We reach out to the University at Albany, to ask that if they care at all about Black lives (and all the marginalized and people of color), they do not allow messages like these to be perpetuated and protected by the SUNY institutions.

We all have choices. We are choosing to make a difference. The University is choosing to hide from this problem, and shelter the privileged individuals that white supremacy protects, and actively encourages to tear down minorities. We ask you, as the student community, to change, to learn, to grow, and to rectify your mistakes. Please do not let these students get away with spreading these messages of malicious hate and discrimination. Do not let us down again. Take action.