USM President responds to former student using racial slur in video

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT)- University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett has issued a statement after a former student posted a video using a racial slur.

In the video posted to social media, the former student can be heard using the “N-word” toward a black woman while two current students can be seen laughing.

President Bennett said the type of behavior presented in the video is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

The Vice President for Student Affair has since been charged with completing a thorough investigation of the video to determine what actions will be taken.

The following statement is from President Bennett:

Like so many of you, I am saddened and angered by the tragic events of this past week. The senseless killing of George Floyd and subsequent events serve as reminders that we must all recommit ourselves to a common good that stands against racism, appreciates individual differences, and values inclusion. I am committed to these tenets for USM, and they are an institutional expectation of all who study and work here.

I am especially saddened whenever members of the USM community do not treat others with respect and dignity. Last night, the University became aware of a video in which a former student used a racial slur, and individuals currently affiliated with USM did not appear to enact the values that we profess and expect from our community. This is not acceptable and will not be tolerated at USM. I am charging the Vice President for Student Affairs with completing a thorough investigation of the video and appropriately addressing it with anyone who is determined to be a current student through the student conduct process. In any context, the video would be troubling. Given the events of the past week, it is especially so.

All students have a role in our USM community’s success. We are our best when people from diverse backgrounds and talents are supporting each other toward collective goals in academic and research pursuits, and in service to our community. For those among you who are exhausted and struggling with current events, I want to reassure you that your University is with you and values you.

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