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Black Student At Trinity Wrote Racially Offensive Web Posting

By ARIELLE LEVIN BECKER | The Hartford Courant

November 08, 2008

The anonymous, racially offensive Web posting that inspired a rally against racism at Trinity College last month was written by a black student who wanted to see how her schoolmates would respond.

"When I began writing the post, I imagined an argument whose effect would serve as a litmus test of the campus climate," the student, Lynda Ikejimba, wrote in a campuswide e-mail, apologizing for the post.

Ikejimba wrote in her apology that race relations "have not been optimal" on campus and that she wanted to find out how students felt about recent efforts to improve the culture at Trinity. She thought using the anonymous online forum TrinTalk would elicit honest answers and hoped that students would respond in disgust.

She called the post "the product of an egregious lapse in judgment" and said she did not intend that the comments leave the Web forum.

The comments disparaged minority students and said their admission to the college correlated with a drop in the college's rankings.

Ikejimba, who came forward voluntarily, did not respond to a request for comment Friday. Dean of Students Frederick Alford said his office is deciding whether Ikejimba will face discipline.

Days after the post appeared, more than 200 students, staff, faculty and administrators attended a rally to reject the comments and show that they embraced diversity. College officials also said the argument in the post was untrue; the representation of minority-group members in the freshman class increased this year, as did the college's rankings.

Ikejimba apologized by e-mail Oct. 31. Two days later, about 150 people attended a campus meeting on the matter. Students' opinions ranged from anger and forgiveness toward the post to concern about racial issues on campus, Alford said.

"It would be wrong to conclude, based on the revelation in that letter of apology, that we don't have work to do in understanding issues of race on this campus, just as it would have been wrong to conclude, based on the one anonymous posting, that the problems are worse than they are," he said.

Several people on campus said they hoped that people will separate Ikejimba's posting from broader racial issues that need to be addressed. Some said they worried that the post would allow people to dismiss racial incidents in the future.

Ibrahim Diallo, one of the students who organized the rally, said he was happy to see people of all backgrounds rejecting racism. The newly formed Trinity Students Organized Against Racism will continue to promote inclusiveness, he said.

"Many students have shown interest in the organization and we plan on capitalizing on this interest," he wrote in an e-mail.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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