On Sunday, September 29, University of New Orleans (UNO) President Dr. John Nicklow issued an official notice to students speaking out against what he called “hateful, offensive” posts that had been made on the UNO Social App.
“I recently learned about some hateful, offensive posts on the UNO Social App. These posts dehumanized others, specifically trans and black individuals. I’m writing today to speak out against those posts, to reaffirm that we value diversity and to reiterate that we do not condone hate speech or bigotry,” Dr. Nicklow wrote.
UNO’s Dr. Carolyn Golz and Dr. Desirée Anderson will offer counseling to students who have been affected by the posts on Monday, September 30 at 1 p.m. in room UC 208 and on Thursday, October 3 at 12:30 p.m. in room UC 210.
The letter comes after calls went out on social media calling for UNO administration to address the posts.
The poster of the transphobic comments in question appears to be Shiloh Walker, who, according to the UNO website, is president of the UNO Archery Club. Sources inside UNO have said that Walker stepped down following the comments.
On Sunday, UNO Dean of Students Carolyn Golz took to the UNO Social App to address the controversy, stating “…not only did that person not apologize once people tried to explain the hurtfulness of her words, she doubled down and continues to triple down. Then, folks chime in with ‘get over it’ and ‘you’re too sensitive’. Again, apologies and changing behavior based on what you learn people take the time to educate about the impact of words goes a long way.”
“Hey Ms. Goltz how about you just say my name,” Walker replied.
She also posted calling another student “an it” – similar to her original comment directed at a transgender student that started the controversy in the first place.
According to Walker, her comments weren’t intended to be dehumanizing.
Walker claims that she didn’t know that the student was transgender, using the common argument that she was trying to be “grammatically correct.”
Walker’s comments were apparently made on a post from a Christian student who compared his hardships to those of trans youth. It is not clear whether the original poster is the source of the racism addressed in Dr. Nicklow’s letter, and Big Easy Magazine has been unable to obtain a screenshot of the original post, as it has been removed from the app.
“Words have meaning and often have historical context,” Dr. Nicklow states in his letter. “When we use words that have traditionally been used to dehumanize and facilitate violence against others, we perpetuate the racist and bigoted history that cannot be separated from those words. In some cases, repeated use of hateful or offensive words contribute to a hostile environment for those who are targeted. While we support and protect free speech rights on our campus, we cannot support those who create or contribute to a hostile environment.”
Dr. Nicklow also encouraged students to speak out, expressing concern for targeted individuals. “Let the offender know that you do not support or condone their views. If you’re impacted by hateful acts, let us know. Report it to the Office of Student Affairs. In some cases, we might not be able to discipline the offender, but we can also engage in constructive dialogue.”
Walker seemed to count on that inability of the university to discipline those who use transphobic language saying, “Why I’m enjoying this now. Keep it coming. Golz can’t do anything to me for speaking just like everyone else. And being a president of my puppy club means absolutely nothing.”
You can read the full letter from UNO President Dr. John Nicklow below:
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor whose work has also been featured in publications such as Wander N.O. More, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_