Students appeal suspension, defend 'bigot list' as 'activism'
Three students at the University of Puget Sound are appealing their suspension for creating a public shame list called “Bigots of Puget Sound.”
The list, which was discovered in November, accused 22 students and faculty members of being racist, misogynistic, sexist, or transphobic, reports KING 5.
“I’ve already started applying for jobs...It’s going to set me back for three years.”
UPS released a statement on Nov. 11 denouncing the list as “deeply disturbing and offensive” and promised to investigate the incident.
“As a community, we place a high value on freedom of speech,” the statement affirmed. “That freedom requires balance and does not extend to speech that violates our harassment policy, our integrity principle, and other policies that affirm the values of our community.”
A university investigation found surveillance footage of Akilah Blakey, Andres Chavez, and Lydia Gebrehiwot that allegedly shows them with the bigot list, resulting in all three students being suspended from campus until 2019 for harassment and disrespectful behavior.
The students still will not admit to creating the list, although they have defended it as a legitimate form of activism and are planning to appeal their punishment.
“I think the list itself it’s absolutely a form of activism,” Blakey said. “If the institution isn’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing to protect all of its students, well, something is going to happen if there is no other avenues to express all of the hate that’s going on campus. What do they expect?”
According to Blakey, the list wasn’t about the individuals named, but rather about the campus climate as a whole, which makes students of color feel marginalized.
A letter signed by UPS faculty members disputes that the list was not personal, calling it “dehumanizing” and explaining that students would be better off reporting incidents of hate to the administration than throwing out accusations in an unsanctioned list.
“We cannot condone the accusation of members of our community without evidence and context, especially when made from behind a veil of anonymity,” the faculty members wrote to The Trail. “Such claims, even when well-intended, are destructive to the kind of intellectual and social community that we seek on our campus and are anathema to the ideals of a liberal arts education or any free society.”
“It is important to remember that the university has procedures for dealing with such serious accusations as the ones made in the flyer, procedures that are consonant with the principles of the rule of law that underpin all democratic communities,” they chided.
An anonymous student whose name appeared on the list told KING 5 that being publicly shamed as a bigot “made my life harder on a day to day basis.”
Nonetheless, the three students feel their punishment was unjust and will file their appeal by January 9.
“It’s going to affect me in a lot of negative ways,” Blakey complained. “I’ve already started applying for jobs for positions that require a bachelor’s degree. It’s going to set me back for three years.”
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