If there was any confusion, you can’t be a racist and a Gamecock.
The president of the University of South Carolina sent that message loud and clear outside the Russell House student union Tuesday. Along with faculty and students, Harris Pastides spoke about the latest racial incident on the downtown Columbia campus.
Pastides said anyone promoting racist views on campus — whether student, faculty or visiting from off campus — would not be tolerated.
“We will confront you. We will take action against you,” Pastides said to a couple hundred students on a closed section of Greene Street. “This is a warning not to come again.”
The rally was held after two incidents on campus.
Last month, racially charged flyers were posted on campus. On Friday, before Sunday’s Super Bowl game, a tweet from a USC student used the n-word when referring to protesters who kneel during the national anthem.
Without mentioning the student or the tweet specifically, Pastides referred to a “racist message on social media.”
“Shame on you,” Pastides said. “Why did you sign the Carolinian Creed? Why did you use an epithet that demeans our students? ... You will be held accountable.”
Pastides said afterward the student would be interviewed about the tweet by USC officials. He declined to comment further, saying there could be a disciplinary proceeding.
Earlier, the university president had tweeted his reaction, saying “Racist, bigoted & hateful comments have no place anywhere @UofSC. I am disgusted & this behavior must stop. Such behavior will be investigated & action will be taken to the fullest extent possible.”
The Twitter controversy followed closely on the heels of a January incident on campus.
On the day after Martin Luther King Day, students found racist flyers posted in two buildings, including on a display case outside the African-American studies office in Gambrell Hall.
The flyers blamed African Americans for the election of President Donald Trump, using racially insensitive language.
“It’s not a coincidence this was posted outside the African-American studies program,” said professor Todd Shaw. “This was an attack directed specifically at African Americans.”
USC said eyewitnesses and video surveillance showed a white man in the area at the time the flyers were posted, but school officials haven’t been able to identify him.
Pastides spoke to the unidentified man directly Tuesday. “You could have come here in the daylight, but you came in the middle of the night. ... You came to divide us. You failed.”
Khrystal Ellis, a junior from Greenville, said she appreciated the president holding the event, adding she hopes it will “wake people up” to the indignities that African-American students have faced this year.
“I was pretty upset. I’m still upset, because we talked about it for a couple days, and then nothing happens,” Ellis said, referring to the flyers. “This shows they care a lot.”
Ross Lordo, the USC student body president, said those behind the two incidents “are not true Carolinians.”
“To anyone else who wants to spread hatred and bigotry, you are not welcome here,” Lordo said.
Two days after the flyers were found, some 300 students turned out for a discussion organized by the university in the student union. Many vented their anger over the flyers and USC’s response. One student called for Pastides to be fired over the incident.
In November, students found an “It’s OK to be white” flyer posted elsewhere on campus. Similar flyers have been posted on other college campuses, apparently part of an internet campaign launched by a web forum.
Three years ago, a USC student was suspended after she was photographed writing on a whiteboard that displayed a slur about African Americans.