Two white University of Connecticut students were arrested Monday for having repeatedly yelled the n-word in an empty parking lot on campus earlier this month and now face both a possible stint in jail and possible expulsion from the school.
“UConn Police Department arrested 21-year-old Jarred Mitchell Karal, of Plainville; 21-year-old Ryan Gilman Mucaj, of Granby,” local station WTIC reported.
“What sparked the arrest was a viral video showing three men walking through the parking lot of the Charter Oak Apartments yelling the ‘N’ word, on October 11.”
“As they walked through the parking lot, Mucaj and Karal switched to saying a racial epithet that was heard by witnesses,” local authorities said to the station. “The investigation revealed the third male did not participate.”
As the viral footage spread, it triggered outrage and marches:
March against racism sends message to new UConn president
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— Matt Caron (@MattCaronTV) October 21, 2019
“It was clear they were trying to do it in a competition to where they were trying to see who could scream it the loudest. So, they were clearly making a mockery of black students,” Avolyn Nieves, a member of an Undergraduate Student Government task force against so-called hate speech, said to WTIC.
“They need to know better to not say it at all. They also need to be cognizant of what the word’s history was, the way that is was used against black people in the past,” Hannah Ravenell, a UConn freshman, added in a statement to local station WVIT when the story first emerged.
Both students like Ravenell and groups like the task force against so-called hate speech are hoping what happened inspires change at the university and elsewhere across the country.
“Just more awareness and hopefully it opens people’s eyes and the need for action to take place at this university,” Mekhi Amos, a UConn junior, argued.
“I just really hope that tonight can really be the start of something that can really hopefully change our campus climate going forward,” Mini Ajayi, another UConn junior, said in a statement to WTIC.
Nieves for her part strongly believes that “black students on this campus really deserve more healing spaces and coping mechanisms.”
It’s not clear if her idea of a “healing space” is a segregated non-white area.
Learn more about her perspective from the video below:
The only other recent incident involving race concerns unconfirmed allegations by the highly scandalous NAACP that on Oct. 12, two white fraternity members used a racial slur against a black female student at a party.
“If the university does not adequately address and handle these occurrences of racism appropriately, it will create a culture in which racism is tolerated and normalized,” the NAACP said in a letter to school officials. “We demand for your full assurance that you will take appropriate measures to hold the students involved in these heinous acts of racism accountable.”
The organization also issued eight demands, including that the school creates mandatory courses on “diversity, racial discrimination, hate crimes, and consequences of such acts,” and that the school starting hiring a “large cluster” of blacks.
But besides the Oct. 11 incident and the alleged Oct. 12 one, it’s not clear for what exactly black students at UConn need “healing spaces and coping mechanisms” and protection from. Nevertheless, this sentiment of fear persists.
“I feel uncomfortable and scared on this campus at this point,” Areon Mangan, a UConn student, reportedly said to station WTNH last week. “We want change. This is not fair to us. It’s disrespectful and it’s just not okay.”
“Right now everybody is on edge,” Jakim Dease, another student, added.
Dovetailing back to Karal and Mucaj, the two were reportedly charged Monday with “ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race,” a misdemeanor charge reportedly punishable by a maximum 3o-day stint in jail, a fine of up to $50 or both.
They may also face penalties on campus.
“[U]niversity spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz … said the university is investigating whether Karal and Mucaj violated the student code of conduct, which could result in additional penalties as severe as expulsion,” The Washington Post reported.
“It is supportive of our core values to pursue accountability, through due process, for an egregious assault on our community that has caused considerable harm,” UConn President Thomas C. Katsouleas reportedly added in a statement late Monday.
“I’m grateful for the university’s collective effort in responding to this incident, especially the hard work of the UConn Police Department, which has been investigating the case since it was reported.”
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