Four University of Georgia students were expelled from their fraternity on Saturday after a video surfaced in which one of the students made a mock whipping motion with a belt and shouted at another to “pick my cotton.”
In the video, which was initially posted to Snapchat and then reposted on Twitter, two white students are on a bed and two others are standing. One student is covered by a comforter and another holds a belt.
When one of the students says “pick my cotton,” another responds, “I’m not black.” After repeatedly saying “pick my cotton” while making a whipping motion with the belt, a different student says, “You’re not using the right words.” That’s when one of them says: “Wait, get a video of it. Pick my cotton,” followed by a racial slur.
The students all start laughing, the video shows.
The University of Georgia condemned the video. “Racism has no place on our campus,” it said. The university, which is in Athens, about 70 miles east of Atlanta, has the full-time equivalent of 37,190 students, about 70 percent of whom are white.
In a news release, the fraternity said it was “disgusted, appalled and angered by the remarks” in the video and expelled four members. It said the video was shot in a setting that was unconnected to a fraternity function and did not take place on any chapter premises.
The statements, the expulsion of the students from the fraternity and Tau Kappa Epsilon’s temporary suspension of the local chapter did little to quell the concerns of black students.
“It is just unfathomable that stuff like this is going on at the school I go to, learn at and attend,” Obinna Ibebunjo, 23, a senior, said.
“We are extremely outraged and offended by the ignorance on a modern-day college campus,” said Mr. Ibebunjo, who is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, a historically black fraternity.
“They were suspended from the fraternity but they were not reprimanded by the school, so it was a slap on the wrist,” he said. “We think colleges are moving to a more liberal state and being more progressive, but just the fact that you would record it and post it is extremely ridiculous.”
Mr. Ibebunjo said it was hard to change the culture on the campus when student halls are named after slave owners.
“Richard Brevard Russell Junior Hall is named after the former slave owner,” Mr. Ibebunjo said. “He was also a pretty outspoken leader against the civil rights movement. Those are the underlined messages at UGA.”
Black students are working to raise awareness and to create a more inclusive campus.
“We think we are a part of a university that is inclusive, but this happens more often than it should,” Mr. Ibebunjo said.