UVic reacts to racist Snapchat screenshots

Campus News
Photo by Maurizio Pesce via Flickr

Content warning: Anti-Indigenous racism

UVic’s campus was buzzing with discussions of an offensive Snapchat screenshot shared on Facebook the night of Sept. 16.

The pictures showed young men — presumably University of Victoria students — pretending to get drunk off Lysol disinfectant wipes, captioned with a racist slur describing First Nations peoples using the cleaner in the same way.

At the time of the writing, the Facebook post had over 300 shares and 75 comments.

The university has begun investigating some of its students “believed to be involved” with the pictures and is looking into the situation under the university’s policies on discrimination and harassment as well as non-academic student misconduct.

The Snapchats became public because the student who took them set his location to the University of Victoria — meaning anybody within the geographical limits of the university were able to view the images. They were quickly screenshotted and shared on Facebook, where the reactions began.

Most were angry with the photos and the students who took and captioned them.

“Bunch of idiots,” wrote Angelina George.

“Just sad,” wrote Emma Joye Frank, “lowlives doing their thing while trying to bring others down. You should really show more respect for the indigenous people of this land, [sic] and for yourselves.”

But many commenters asked what the difference between the slur and the term “white girl wasted” was.

“Isn’t this the same as natives [sic] saying “I’m going to get white girl wasted?’” asked Chantal Elizabeth Sankey.

“The difference between the centuries worth of racism and ridicule and violence indigenous people have endured in Canada, and a term invented by drunk university girls for drunk university girls is so huge I don’t even know where to begin,” replied Meg Labron.

Others excused the students for being drunk.

“We have all done stupid shit while hammered,” wrote Kris Moffatt. “I know I have. The line between right and wrong gets pretty blurry (among other things) when youve [sic] had a few.”

“Idk about you but I don’t magically get racist when I get shit faced,” Paige Atwell rebutted, “Let alone plaster it on social media. He is old enough to know what he was saying and doing. He’s in university for god sake.”

The post was sent to various members of the University administration, and Jamie Cassels responded to the incident in a statement made on the morning of Sept. 18 on the university website.

“I want to reaffirm UVic’s deep commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, to Indigenous students, to better and more meaningful partnerships with Indigenous communities,” said Cassels, “and to working to bring our university into better harmony with Indigenous cultures, beliefs and ways of being.

“We will not permit incidents like this to deflect our movement toward these important goals, but instead take them as proof of the need to redouble our efforts in the pursuit of reconciliation.”

This is a breaking story — visit martlet.ca for more updates.