Racist Rant Roils Columbia

"White people are the best thing that ever happened to the world," the racist Columbia student shouted. The university is investigating the incident but would not confirm whether the student will face disciplinary action.

December 11, 2018

A Columbia University student shouted that “white people are the best thing that ever happened to the world” on Sunday evening during a racist tirade in front of students of color, who caught the rant on video.

“We invented science and industry, and you want to tell us to stop because ‘oh, my God, we’re so bad,’” the student said, skipping around the small crowd of students. “We saved billions of people from starvation. We built modern civilization. White people are the best thing that ever happened to the world. We are so amazing. I love myself and I love my people. [Fuck] yeah, white people! [Fuck] yeah, white men! We’re white men, we did everything.”

The white student in the video is Julian von Abele. Several onlooking students challenged his remarks; one asked, “What about slavery?”

In an email to students, Deans Mary Boyce, Lisa Rosen-Metsch and James Valentini assured students that the university was investigating the incident.

“Although we cannot comment on the proceedings, this incident is already under investigation by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, and we want to assure you that it will be investigated thoroughly, beginning with interviews of witnesses,” the email read.

A spokesperson for Columbia could not confirm whether that investigation will result in disciplinary action for von Abele.

The Columbia University Black Student Union addressed the incident in a Facebook post and elaborated on what allegedly occurred after the camera turned off.

“Apparently after this encounter, [von Abele] continued to harass several students and Public Safety did nothing to help or protect the students when they were contacted,” the post read. “This came after he forcibly grabbed a black woman and asked black women if they liked to date white men, according to several individuals.”

Von Abele did not respond to Inside Higher Ed’s request for comment.

Columbia’s student conduct policies specifically prohibit harassment, which is defined as “unwelcome verbal or physical conduct/threat of physical conduct that, because of its severity, pervasiveness, and/or persistence, interferes significantly with an individual’s work or education, or adversely affects an individual’s living conditions.” The university also has a nondiscrimination policy that, if violated, could result in a disciplinary hearing.

The university posted a Twitter thread in response to the incident.

“Statements of white racial superiority conflict with the university’s core value of inclusivity as well as the educational work and research that take place on our campuses,” it began.

The thread was met with some criticism.

“Actually, by teaching a Eurocentric core curriculum in which students study the modern world through the lens of solely Western societies, you are perpetuating the white supremacy that occurred on campus,” one user wrote. “I appreciate the tweeting, but it's time to diversify the core.” Columbia is known for a rigorous core curriculum with a strong focus on Western classics.

“There is only one socially acceptable outcome and that is to expel Julian von Abele from Columbia university,” another user tweeted. “You have to show there are serious consequences for his type of racist behavior.”


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