Virginia student threatened after criticizing 'too many white people' at multicultural center
© Greg Nash

A student at the University of Virginia has faced threats after a now-viral video appeared to show her telling fellow students that there were “too many” white people in a multicultural space on campus.

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan wrote in The Cavalier Daily, the university’s student newspaper, that the student in the video has faced “vitriol” and “physical threats” since appearing in the video, in addition to “racist comments toward the student involved and students of color generally.” 

In the video, she is seen standing in the school’s newly expanded Multicultural Student Center on campus, according to The Cavalier Daily. 

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“If y’all didn’t know, this is the MSC, and frankly there’s just too many white people in here, and this is a space for people of color. So just be really cognizant of the space that you’re taking up because it does make some of us POC uncomfortable when we see too many white people in here. It’s only been open for four days, and frankly, there’s the whole university for a lot of y’all to be at, and there’s very few spaces for us, so keep that in mind. Thank you,” the student says in the video posted by the conservative organization Young America’s Foundation last week.

 

Student are heard applauding the student at the end of the clip.  

Ryan wrote in the essay released Wednesday that the video “sparked a firestorm on social media,” and people reached out to this office demanding “some sort of punishment.” However, some also supported the student and said the university should endorse her statement.  

“On the surface, this is straightforward. The Multicultural Student Center is, will and should remain open to all students. It is meant to be a place where students from different backgrounds come together. To suggest that some students should be excluded on the basis of their race or any other aspect of their identity is, to me, inconsistent with the very purpose of having the center. More generally, and to be plain about it, no student should be denied access to a University program or space because of race,” Ryan wrote. 

However, he called the threats against the student “reprehensible” and called for the university of community to “allow for the expression of all ideas, including those that make some uncomfortable and those that offend.”

“The harder part is to put this statement in context and to think more broadly about diversity and inclusion today. The Multicultural Student Center at U.Va., similar to such centers at other universities, has traditionally been a place where students of color, more so than white students, gather and find community,” Ryan wrote. 

“In a university that was exclusively white for a very long time and remains predominantly white today, the MSC has been a welcoming place for students of color.  I cannot put myself in someone else’s shoes, but the comment about white students at the newly renovated MSC, in this context, is to me a statement of concern that one of the few places traditionally 'for' students of color would turn into a place dominated by white students,” he continued.

African American students made up less than 7 percent of the University of Virginia’s student body in 2018, according to the school’s website. White students made up nearly 57 percent of undergraduate students.