American University Reacts to Racist Social Media Comments

Racist comments on social media by purported American University students have provoked a strong reaction from students and university officials.

The controversy stems from comments on the social media app Yik Yak. The app lets users within a 10 mile radius post comments and replies anonymously, similar to an online bulletin board for people in a certain area.

The posts gained attention when a Twitter user who said she was an American University student posted what appeared to be screenshots of multiple pages of Yik Yak comments to her Twitter feed March 11. She wrote that the anonymous posts were by fellow AU students. The Twitter message has gone viral, with more than 4,500 retweets and 1,800 favorites.

"It's obviously racist, but I really don't like 99 percent of the black people I meet. At least I'm honest," one anonymous user wrote.

"Their entire culture just isn't conducive to a life of success. It just isn't. The outfits. The attitudes. The behavior," wrote another.

American University officials strongly denounced racist comments on Yik Yak in a statement Monday. The university did not direct the statement to any posts in particular.

"The AU community is deeply offended by recent, anonymous, racist posts on Yik Yak," said Vice President of Campus Life Gail Short Hanson in an email to students. "It cannot be stated strongly enough that these posts stand in stark contrast to American University’s core values of respect for human dignity and appreciation for diverse cultures and viewpoints."

The university announced a forum would take place Thursday night to "advance AU toward its ideal as an inclusive community."

The controversy at AU comes days after a racist email sent by a University of Maryland student was discovered by university officials, and a video of University of Oklahoma students shouting a racist chant sparked controversy about racism on college campuses across the country.

Contact Us