University president calls student’s Facebook post callous

The caption includes hashtags that many would call racially insensitive

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Old Dominion University’s president is speaking out about a social media “incident” he says mocked recent controversial deaths by police officers in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City.

In a post on ODU’s Facebook page Thursday afternoon, President John Broderick spoke vaguely about a social media post with “comments that have offended members of” the ODU community. ODU confirmed to 10 On Your Side that Broderick’s statement was in response to a Facebook photo posted by an ODU student on Wednesday.

The photo shows the student with another ODU student wearing purple and green masks, and the caption includes a number of hashtags that many would call racially insensitive. The second student in the photo “liked” the post through his/her own Facebook account.

Photo courtesy Twitter

“Taken at face value, it is difficult for me to understand the callousness displayed regarding recent events in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City,” Broderick said. ” … When statements are made that mock these events, we all suffer. We suffer because hurtful statements marginalize us as individuals. But in a broader sense, we also suffer as a society because divisiveness degrades our collective sense of civility and empathy toward others.”

The post has been making its rounds across social media, and an ODU student who wished to remain anonymous said the post has “separated ODU’s community even more than other racial events that have occurred on the campus.”

“I want to reiterate my long-standing position that divisive and exclusionary language and actions have no place at Old Dominion University,” Broderick wrote. ” … Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of differences. Nothing less is acceptable.”

Broderick said the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity would review the matter and report results to school administration. He also encouraged the ODU community to “engage in civil discussion.”

Social media posts indicate ODU students are planning to meet Thursday evening to discuss the post, and other recent racial incidents at state universities.

Broderick’s full statement is as follows:

Dear Old Dominion Community,

I am writing you today to address an incident involving the use of social media. The post included comments that have offended members of our campus community.

Taken at face value, it is difficult for me to understand the callousness displayed regarding recent events in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City. We should all remember that each of these incidents resulted in a tragic loss of life. I regard these ill-conceived remarks as unacceptable and inappropriate.

When statements are made that mock these events, we all suffer. We suffer because hurtful statements marginalize us as individuals. But in a broader sense, we also suffer as a society because divisiveness degrades our collective sense of civility and empathy toward others.

I want to reiterate my long-standing position that divisive and exclusionary language and actions have no place at Old Dominion University. I am proud of the diversity and culture of inclusivity that is readily displayed here, even to the most casual observer.

Be assured, Old Dominion is proudly committed to fostering a living and learning environment that is diverse at its core. We actively promote inclusion and cultural understanding as key principles that directly contribute to the ultimate success of the University as well as that of each of our students, faculty and staff.

Today, I tasked the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity to review the matter and report results to appropriate administrators.

Free speech and due process are integral components of our country’s social fabric and should be protected.

I encourage everyone in the Old Dominion community to use this unfortunate incident as an opportunity to reflect on our attitudes toward others and engage in civil discussion. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of differences. Nothing less is acceptable.

Sincerely,

John R. Broderick
President

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