A group text message among Saint Louis University baseball players in which team members made racist comments about Barack Obama will not lead to formal discipline, university administrators decided, because it was a private conversation and therefore not a bias-related incident.
The exchange took place last May, on a team trip to Washington D.C. A conversation about where to eat took a hard left turn.
(It’s unclear if Luke was able to charge up his new MacBook.)
[Ed. Note: This image was redacted by the Black Student Alliance. The names of the two players that have not been redacted were not involved with or accused of making any racist comments.]
One of the players involved texted a screenshot of the messages to his roommate, Brenden Twomey, a former team manager. Twomey did nothing with the image until earlier this month, when his girlfriend saw it on his phone and together the two filed a formal complaint to the university.
Here’s where the timeline gets a little muddy:
- The report was filed on April 4
- On April 5, Twomey and his girlfriend spoke to a university investigator.
- On April 11, after not having heard anything about the status of the investigation, Twomey and his girlfriend sent the image to the Black Student Alliance, who posted it to their Facebook page. Dr. Mona Hicks, SLU’s Dean of Students, said there had been a miscommunication and a meeting to discuss the case was supposed to be held the next day.
- But, according to SLU’s bias-related incident report log, the investigation had been closed on April 7 and labeled not applicable for discipline.
Hicks told The University News no discipline was recommended because it had been a private conversation.
“If I were to directly state to you, ‘You suck because of all of your social identities that God gave you.’ That would be wrong. That would require some adjudication,” said Hicks. “We also need to respect laws. This was a private conversation, or at least the perception of private between in-group parties.”
Instead, the baseball team has volunteered to take part in a “facilitated dialogue” to discuss the issues raised. And the team’s four captains wrote a letter to the student newspaper, apologizing for their teammates’ actions.
“The leaders and captains of the team would like to extend an apology to anyone offended by the bias messages. We, too, are frustrated and feel that the comments do not accurately reflect the values that we hold.”
Two days after the image of the conversation went public, Twomey, the whistleblower, said tobacco spit had been splashed outside his door, and nail clippings left on the cloth he uses to clean his glasses. His roommate was identified as a member of the baseball team, the one who had sent him the image in the first place last year. (Twomey told the Riverfront Times that his roommate has since voluntarily moved out.)