A student at the University of Missouri sent a message on social media to a friend speaking about the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. It stated: “If they would have killed 4 more n—– we would have had the whole week off.” The text was followed by crying laughing emojis.
The post was screenshot and widely disseminated on campus. Student groups demanded that the original sender of the message be expelled.
Mun Choi president of the University of Missouri, stated that the matter was under review but thatadded “this language is reprehensible, and we condemn any language and actions that are racist, discriminatory and hateful to our community.”
On January 9, President Choi sent an update that stated the university determined it has no grounds to discipline the student who sent it, due to First Amendment protections. President Choi stated that “upon review, the student’s racial slur was expressed in a direct message to her friend and was not communicated in a way that harassed any individual. In that context, the speech is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“First Amendment law does not allow a public university to punish speech only because it is racist or hateful – even when that speech is diametrically opposed to our values,” president Choi added. “Our university community will not be defined by the actions of one individual, but instead by our deep and collective commitment to be welcoming to all.”