Booted for Hate

Belmont kicks out freshman who used slur and suggested that black National Football League athletes who raised their fists during national anthem "need a damn bullet in their head."

September 21, 2016

A freshman at Belmont University is no longer a student as of Tuesday afternoon -- after he posted a racist photo on Snapchat, labeling three National Football League players with the N-word.

The student's post showed three Philadelphia Eagles players raising their fists during the national anthem with the caption visible below in full. "Every one of them needs a damn bullet in their head. If you don't like this country get the hell out," the student wrote.

Racist social media comments are nothing new in higher education. But many times colleges say that there is nothing they can do about them, either because of First Amendment protections or -- at private colleges such as Belmont -- a reluctance to punish any form of speech.

The snap was posted during a Monday night football game, and it quickly circulated on social media. Critics called for Belmont administration to address the tweet.

Tuesday morning, Belmont released a statement, saying it was investigating the case. "This is not free speech -- this is hate speech," the statement read. By Tuesday afternoon, the university announced that the student was no longer at the university.

The updated statement read, "After investigating a racist social media post that surfaced earlier today, we can report that the person involved is no longer a student at Belmont. The university rejects comments rooted in racism or bigotry. As a Christian institution, it is our goal to build a diverse and inclusive community where all members feel accepted, safe and valued."

Belmont did not release the name of the student.

The Belmont University Black Students Association also released a statement through a Facebook post, in which the group thanked Belmont for its swift response.

“As we have seen from our administration, the necessary response to racism such as this is a direct and immediate rejection. Not one hidden beyond administrative doors, but one on full display. May we continue to publicly expose the private acts of bigotry,” the post stated.

A spokesperson from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free speech watchdog group, said that the group is looking into the case, but had no comment on Tuesday.

The Eagles players raised their fists in solidarity with another NFL player, Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans has been both widely praised and criticized.


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