Racist slurs overshadow Provost’s Student Publication Ceremony

During the Provost’s Student Publication Ceremony, attendees interrupted the zoom meeting with repeated racial slurs.

Savannah Peifer, Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s note: As of 4:25 p.m. April 18, this story has been updated to include more information

A group of individuals spewed racial slurs into the Provost’s Student Publication Ceremony Monday afternoon, in an attempt to disrupt a Zoom meeting to recognize student achievement.

The ceremony is an annual event that recognizes different types of student publications, including news reporting, academic, and creative writing. During the event, attendees interrupted presenters after roughly 20 minutes.

Two interrupters repeated a derogatory slur meant to disparage Black Americans and one other asked a presenter for her phone number and Snapchat. It is unclear if the attendees who interrupted were students. 

When Interim Provost Michelle Hawkins asked attendees to mute themselves, one responded to her. 

“Can you shut your mic off lady,” they yelled into the meeting. 

Hawkins did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

Jeffery Galin, English professor and program host, apologized at the end of the ceremony, and said interruptions were “bound to happen.” Galin did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

The host removed the attendees from the ceremony, according to Michael Horswell, the dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

“I was very disappointed that someone interrupted the Zoom space where we were recognizing our student success in publishing. The slurs were inappropriate and unwelcome,” Horswell wrote in an email. “I appreciate our staff’s quick response to remove them from the event. I am sorry they detracted from our students’ moment in the spotlight.”

On Tuesday, April 18 Interim Assistant Director of Writing Across the Curriculum, Julianna Cohen released an apology via email.

“This was highly unfortunate and unanticipated. Please know that we strongly condemn this behavior and language. We worked as quickly as we could to remove and report those who participated in the hate speech and offensive remarks. We have also consulted with attendees and OIT support who have offered thoughtful suggestions to prevent this from happening at future events,” Cohen wrote. “In the future we will create the event as a presentation so that participants are not able to speak during the event unless designated to do so. We will further increase our security protocols and will not publish the Zoom link on our website as we’ve done in the past.”

Savannah Peifer is the editor-in-chief for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories DM her on instagram @ginger.savvy or email her at [email protected]