The status of the student who accidentally sent a racial slur to her future Georgia Southern University roommate last month is currently unknown.
The racial slur was sent to the GS student on July 19, around five in the afternoon.
"“Her insta looks pretty normal not too n***erish,” the text said. The student sent another message later saying that she meant to type 'triggerish' instead of the slur.
The message, according to posts on social media, used the actual N-word. The George-Anne has chosen not to publish the slur.
"I meant to say triggerish meaning like you seemed really cool nothing that triggered a red flag!" The next message reads, according to screenshots on social media. "I'm so embarrassed I apologize."
Later that evening, friends of the student who were sent the message posted several tweets and Facebook posts about the incident, which quickly went viral on outlets like Buzzfeed, The Washington Post and The View.
The students were to be roommates at Aspen Heights, who released a statement later that night regarding the incident.
We were made aware of the situation as it happened and this is something we take very seriously and we have already addressed everything with the resident.— Aspen Heights GSU (@AspenHeightsGSU) July 20, 2018
Before the night ended, Dean of Students Patrice Jackson sent an email to one of the individuals who originally posted the tweets on social media saying that she was aware of the incident and was working to address it.
In the weeks following the incident, a few members of the GS administration have commented on the situation, including Interim President Shelley Nickel.
In an interview with The George-Anne, Nickel spoke about how she, along with other members of the president’s cabinet, are working to learn from this incident.
“We are educators," Nickel said. "We are here to teach and we are here to learn. This is an opportunity for us to learn from what has happened and do a better job.”
Nickel went on to say that, in the next couple of weeks and months, the GS community should be seeing opportunities that will let their voices be heard on campus.
“We should be a good place for people to feel comfortable to have conversations about tough topics,” Nickel said. “I fully expect that to happen over the next couple of months and for us to open doors for students, faculty and staff to have those kind of conversations that help us learn about one another so we don’t say hateful things.”
When asked whether the university is able to take any action against the student who wrote the message, Nickel said that, although the university hated what was said, language like that is protected by the First Amendment.
“Because we are a public institution, language is protected by the first amendment. As much as we hate what was said, it is protected speech,” Nickel said. “We can’t protect only content that we like, we have to protect all. That is what the constitution says and that is the rules of our land and that’s how we will conduct ourselves.”
Other campus leaders react
The Xi Tau chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at GS has also been vocal about where they stand. On the day of the incident, Randy Johnnicon, president of the GS Alpha Phi Alpha chapter, released a statement:
“We encourage everyone to speak out against any injustice that has happened to you or that you have seen happen to someone else,” Johnnicon said in the statement. “Silence is not an option.”
The fraternity has also began #XiTogetherAlwaysUnited, a hashtag posted across their social media platforms that aims to promote equality and justice on GS’s campus and in the community.
GS Student Government President Jarvis Steele also released a statement a day after the incident took place.
"I want to be clear, intentional and strong when I say, that this behavior is not tolerated [by] me," Steele said in his statement. "I am unwavering in my condemnation of these beliefs and quite frankly, appalled by what was said."
Steele goes on to say that, as SGA president, he wants to mimic the voices of the student body. Steele said that he rejects racism at GS in all forms and hopes to move on.
"I want to lead the charge of saying no to racism in all forms, in hopes that as we close the book on what was the old Georgia Southern, we can begin to write a new edition on what is our freshly consolidated, Georgia Southern," Steele said.
Both the sender of the ‘triggerish’ message and the recipient were contacted by The George-Anne, but both declined to comment on the issue. The recipient asked The George-Anne not to use names or other personal information.
Matthew Enfinger contributed to this article.
Tandra Smith, Enterprise/Features Managing Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.