Louisiana State University (LSU) is investigating an incident that involved an undergraduate student allegedly shouting racial slurs at a group of students. The encounter occurred during an August 31 game between LSU and Georgia Southern at Tigers Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
A female student, identified as freshman Christy Nguyen, tweeted that a white male student, identified as sophomore Foxworth Vidrine, repeatedly yelled, “Get the f— out” and racial slurs at Nguyen and her friends. The three young women are Vietnamese American and Baton Rouge natives, according to NBC News.
Nguyen told the Reveille, LSU’s student newspaper, she and her friends were leaving the stadium when Vidrine yelled the racist comments.
“It was really humiliating; he was yelling, and everyone around was just looking,” Nguuyen said. “He even had the satisfaction of seeing us leave.”
Fellow freshman Thao Ngo said no one in the area said anything to Vidrine or did anything to stop the racist attack. “No one even tried to stop it,” Ngo told Reveille. “We were just shocked and had no clue what to do.”
Nguyen told NBC News a white female undergrad did come over to console the group and provided them with a picture of Vidrine. Nguyen later posted the photo of Vidrine on Twitter, hoping to identify him and heighten the university’s awareness of the event.
“LSU has received the report and has been meeting with the students involved,” Mari Fuentes-Martin, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said in a statement to The North Star. “The language and words used in this incident do not reflect who we are as a university and the welcoming environment we have created for students of all backgrounds.”
Fuentes-Martin said LSU is “committed to maintaining a safe living and learning environment that embraces individual differences and values cultural inclusion.”
Any disciplinary action that results from the university’s investigation will be handled by LSU’s Office of Student Advocacy and Accountability as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct, the statement said. LSU did not provide any further information on the incident.
The students confirmed that they met with Fuentes-Martin but said possible discipline for Vidrine was not discussed. During their meeting, the students said they were told that Vidrine’s words were not threatening and were protected by his First Amendment rights.
“We just didn’t understand that because hate speech and freedom of speech are two different things,” freshman Madaleine Vo said.
LSU did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for further comment on these claims.
The students told the Reveille they felt the university’s actions have made them feel unwelcome and victim-shamed.
Ngo told the student newspaper LSU has not even addressed the issue. “The way that they’re handling it is by teaching the victim and the people around the victim what to do if that happens again instead of dealing with the person who actually did the hurtful act,” she said. “It makes us feel like we did something wrong or are unwelcome.”
Racist and anti-Semitic incidents, as well as white supremacist propaganda, have been on the rise on college campuses around the country, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Center on Extremism.
A June report by the ADL found that cases of white supremacist propaganda on campuses rose seven percent during the 2018-2019 academic year from the previous school year. The ADL documented 292 cases of white supremacist propaganda during the 2017-2018 school year and 313 cases during the 2018-2019 school year.
The organization noted there was a particular spike in activity during the 2019 spring semester. The ADL documented 161 incidents across 122 different campuses in 33 states and the District of Columbia between January and May 2019.
“This is a terrible incident. No student should be made to feel that they are unwelcome. [Outbursts] such as this need to be taken seriously by LSU, and their response needs to send a message that this behavior is unacceptable and that hate will not be tolerated on campus,” ADL regional director Aaron Ahlquist told The North Star. “We will work to see what good can come of this, and stand with Ms. Nguyen in this difficult and painful moment.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that tracks hate groups, also documented a rise in hate and domestic extremism. In February, the center found a 30 percent increase in US hate groups over the past four years, including a seven percent increase in hate groups in 2018 alone, according to NPR.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.