5 February 2018 | A racist video shared on the Snapchat social media platform has stirred controversy at Southern Adventist University. The video titled “Happy n***** day” was shared by an account called “Southern Stories” and portrays black students carrying flags from various nations at a Black Christian Union (BCU) event on Saturday night, February 3.
Phillip Warfield, president of SAU’s Student Association responded to the controversial post via his Twitter account.
At 2:56 pm on February 4, Warfield called for the SAU community to “Stop feeding this attention-seeking troll who obviously doesn’t reflect who we are. We’re NOT all like this at Southern. We’re NOT all bigots. Don’t let one person ruin the unification of 3,000 people. Don’t let it destroy what we’ve built all year long.”
Warfield tweeted at 3:35 pm on February 5 stating that it had been “confirmed that the individual who posted this is a known troll on campus that uses his fake platform to stir up hate and controversy. He was expelled and banned from SAU some time ago but sometimes appears since he lives near the area.”
Anna Bennet, associate chaplain at Southern Adventist University, responded via Facebook on February 4 to criticism of the racist video saying “we must combat racism in our educational institutions, in our churches, and in any of our organizations. It is a real problem and has to be aggressively attacked not just passively pushed around on our agendas as calendar months pass by.”
Bennet stressed that that the post was not from an official SAU Snapchat account: “I do need to clarify this post though so that it’s not taken out of context or misunderstood – this screen shot was taken of an individual who made a Snapchat account, called it ‘Southern Stories’ and made these racial slurs under this anonymous account. This was not an official account of Southern in any way. It’s unfortunate that one person can overshadow all the good that happened on our campus this weekend – at our Vespers service, at multiple worship services on Sabbath and at the BCU event yesterday evening – all beautiful, positive celebrations of unity in diversity. The real point though is that it’s not just one person’s racial remarks as you’ve already stated. It’s institutional racism that must be unitedly attacked at every level in our institutions not just administratively but most importantly on this crucial level. I can attest to the fact that there have been some very positive efforts taken on our campus – but this disappointing statement goes to show that it’s not enough. We must do more.”
Dr. David Smith, university president, responded with the following statement: “Last night I was honored to take part in our annual Black Christian Union (BCU) night and was inspired by the creativity, diversity, and enthusiasm of our student body! This morning, I was sickened to learn that an anonymous person who also attended the BCU event posted highly offensive, racist language on social media regarding the evening. As president of Southern Adventist University, I stand firmly with our students, employees, and Phillip Warfield, our student association president, in denouncing these harmful words and actions. One of our core values at Southern is to be Christ-centered in every aspect of life on campus, allowing His love in us to influence our behavior, words, and thoughts. Christ’s ministry on earth was one of radical love that transcended earthly divisions; it draws all of us into a community of compassion and equality. Those who hide behind anonymity to spread hate and ignorance toward any person or group are not representative of Southern’s values and have no place in our community. … Students are also expected to report anyone (student, employee, or visitor to our campus) who is engaging in discrimination or harassment, including any based on race or ethnicity. While Southern has no connection with the ‘Southern Stories’ account, we will reach out to Snapchat to request that they will share the identity of the individual who created this offensive post and remove the account which acted in violation of their community guidelines. If you have information regarding the originator of last night’s message, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the anonymous form located at southern.edu/report. As the Bible says, ‘The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks,’ (Luke 6:45). Join me in striving to make our campus known for the goodness of our hearts!”
Southern Adventist University is an Adventist institution in Collegedale, Tennessee, owned and operated by the Adventist denomination’s Southern Union Conference. It has about 3,000 students.