Lewis & Clark College: Two Students Guilty of ‘Harassment’ for Racial Jokes at Party

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Lewis & Clark College

In November 2013, two friends and football teammates at Lewis & Clark College—one African-American and one white—were accused of, among other things, “Discrimination or Harassment,” when racially themed humor they shared at a private party was overheard by another student not present at the party. After being questioned by campus safety officers as well as a disciplinary panel for the “inappropriateness” and “negative impact” of their shared inside jokes, the students were found responsible and placed on probation. FIRE wrote to Lewis & Clark President Barry Glassner on April 18, 2014, explaining that Lewis & Clark’s actions were contrary to its express promises of free speech. On May 1, Lewis & Clark issued a two-sentence response to FIRE’s letter, stating that the college “may be back in touch” after conducting its own review.

  • Lewis & Clark’s Racial Inquisition

    August 12, 2014

    By Dennis Saffran at City Journal Has it really come to this? This spring, the estimable Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reported on a case out of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, in which two friends and football teammates—one black, one white—were punished for joking about race during a game of beer pong at a private dorm party in November 2013. No one at the party was offended, but an informer in another room overheard the banter and turned them in. The black student had jokingly named his beer pong team “Team Nigga” and would shout the name whenever […]

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  • Lewis & Clark Chooses PR Over Dialogue: Guest Opinion

    May 2, 2014

    By Caleb Diehl at The Oregonian Before Willamette Week and The Oregonian reported that a national free speech organization had reproached Lewis & Clark College for doling out severe punishments to two students who made racially insensitive comments, I broke the story. Since publication in the college’s student newspaper, I’ve been pressured to comment on an off-the-record conversation, received terse emails and been screamed at on a Saturday night. I’ll take all of that, because it’s important to show that the college has a problem with owning up for its mistakes. It’s clear that Lewis & Clark must focus less on keeping up […]

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  • Two Lewis & Clark Football Players in Trouble for Racial Slurs

    April 30, 2014

    By Joe Douglass at KATU News SOUTHWEST PORTLAND, Ore. — Two Lewis & Clark College football players are in big trouble for exchanging racial slurs at a party on campus. The students – one black, one white – say they were just kidding around, but the school isn’t laughing. The students were playing beer pong last November at Holmes Hall, which houses mostly sophomores, juniors and seniors. A report says the African-American student named his beer pong team, “Team N—,” and he and his partner, the white student, would shout that after they scored. They’d also exchanged the phrase “white power”. […]

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  • ‘There will be one throat to choke, OK?’: Oregon politics, the week in quotes

    April 28, 2014

    By Katherine Driessen at The Oregonian Here are quotes worth noting from the week in Oregon politics: “It’s easy to define you guys. It’s harder to define the softer fringe.” — State Ethics Commission Executive Director Ron Bersin, referring to the commission’s attempts to define who is a journalist for purposes of state public meetings law. “Dennis Richardson could be a raging liberal, but you bet by the time the Democrats and public unions are done with him, he’s the most far-right raging conservative you’ve ever heard of. They are going to create an effigy of Dennis Richardson using his voting record, then they’re […]

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  • A Failure to Communicate at Lewis & Clark College

    April 28, 2014

    By Steve Duin at The Oregonian In catching up with the city after a long weekend away, few stories are as puzzling or discouraging as the tale of all that “racially charged language, intentional or not,” that energized a beer-pong game at Lewis & Clark College. And while beer pong is not designed to be prelude to a thoughtful discussion on anything beyond elbow overhang and cheap beer, what is especially discouraging is the college administration’s decision to disdain further comment on what appears to be a painful overreaction of discipline. Six months ago, 20 football players were partying in a private dorm room in […]

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  • College Disciplines Students — One Black, One White — For Racial Joke

    April 28, 2014

    By Robby Soave at The Daily Caller Lewis & Clark College, a private university in Portland, Oregon, disciplined two students — one black, one white, both football players — because they joked about race while playing beer pong at a dormitory party. The black student named his two-man beer pong team, “Team Nigga.” His partner was the white student. They shouted “Team Nigga,” after they scored. Later, the black student asked, in joking fashion, “Can I get a ‘white power!’” His friend responded by cheering, “White power!” (RELATED: ANOTHER university stops students from handing out Constitution) No one at the party was […]

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  • Free Speech Group Objects to Lewis & Clark Discipline of Students Who Joked About White Power, N-word at Dorm Party

    April 25, 2014

    By Betsy Hammond at The Oregonian A national university free speech group says Lewis & Clark College grossly overreacted by disciplining two students for using racially offensive language during a small, late-night private party in a dormitory suite last fall. In its zeal to root out racism on campus and ensure no student hears anything  offensive, Lewis & Clark ran roughshod over the First Amendment and due process rights of students who were joshing around and hurt no one, Peter Bonilla, program director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told The Oregonian. At the time, Lewis & Clark administrators were under […]

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  • National Free Speech Group Reproaches Lewis & Clark for Punishing Athletes For Tasteless Inside Joke

    April 24, 2014

    By Kate Willson at Willamette Week The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education fired off a letter of reprimand last week to Lewis & Clark College President Barry Glassner, accusing the school of failing to abide by its “institutional promises that bind it morally and legally to protect free expression,”according to a story by the student newspaper, the Pioneer Log. The reprimand stems from a November exchange between two football players, one black and one white, in which they trade racial slurs as part of an inside joke, the paper reported. A month later the student athletes were hauled in front of the College Review Board, found to […]

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  • FIRE Asks Lewis & Clark Trustees to Revoke Punishment for Students’ Protected Speech

    November 24, 2014

    Despite warnings from FIRE and criticism from media outlets and 40 faculty members, Lewis & Clark College (LCC) still has not rescinded its punishment against two students who were unjustly charged with, and found responsible for, “Physical or Mental Harm,” “Discrimination or Harassment,” and “Disorderly Conduct” for supposedly “racial and biased” comments. Last week, FIRE sent a letter to LCC’s Board of Trustees asking, once again, for the disciplinary action to be rescinded. For Torch readers needing a refresher, problems arose at LCC a year ago when two students and members of the football team—one white and one African-American—were overheard making […]

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  • ‘Oregonian’ on Failure to Lead at Lewis & Clark

    May 15, 2014

    As The Oregonian (Portland) writer Steve Duin notes, everyone is talking about the free speech controversy swirling around Lewis & Clark College. Everyone except the Lewis & Clark administration, that is. According to Duin, the college’s administration is sorely lacking in the kind of leadership and transparency necessary to help navigate the college through this and other controversies.

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  • Lewis & Clark College Stays Silent on Racial Harassment Charges

    May 13, 2014

    If you’re just tuning in to this story, Oregon’s Lewis & Clark College is receiving criticism from FIRE, the media, and its students and faculty for the college’s punishment of two students based on remarks overheard at a private party and reported to campus authorities. Amidst the turmoil over FIRE’s revelations of its misguided and illiberal punishment of the two students, Lewis & Clark has stonewalled its faculty and only gone so far as to tell FIRE that it “may” respond to our numerous concerns.

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  • Racial Humor Among Friends Deemed ‘Harassment’ at Lewis & Clark College

    May 8, 2014

    Lewis & Clark College has declared two students, one African-American and one white, guilty of creating a “hostile and discriminatory environment” after racially themed jokes spoken between the friends at a private party were overheard and reported to campus authorities. The students contacted FIRE for help. In the face of media scrutiny and growing faculty concern, the college has said only that it “may” respond to FIRE’s criticisms.

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