K-State cannot expel student for controversial tweet

Kansas State student Jaden McNeil sent this tweet on June 25, 2020. K-State athletes soon vowed...
Kansas State student Jaden McNeil sent this tweet on June 25, 2020. K-State athletes soon vowed not to play again after this tweet.(Jaden McNeil)
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 2:30 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas State University President Richard Myers says the University cannot expel a student who posted a controversial tweet about George Floyd.

Myers released the statement on Wednesday after several students raised concerns about the tweet from Jaden McNeil. McNeil posted on twitter saying, “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free an entire month!”

“There have been many calls for us to expel a student who posted racist messages on social media, and while these messages are disrespectful and abhorrent, we cannot violate the law,” said Myers. “What we can do is use these incidents as a catalyst to more crisply define the way we will work to stop hate at K-State and combat racism on our campuses.”

In his statement, he also released an action plan:

1. Create a Student Ombudsperson Office in collaboration between the Provost, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and Vice President for Student Life to advocate for students experiencing a campus climate concern.

2. Establish a work group to analyze and make recommendations regarding all university policies, including discrimination and harassment policies and the Student Code of Conduct, with the goal of identifying and addressing institutional bias and barriers through an anti-racist lens.

3. Increase recruitment efforts with the aim of raising enrollment of students of color to meet or exceed the state of Kansas demographics.

4. Increase efforts to raise retention and graduation rates of students of color with annual measurable goals.

5. Increase the amount of need-based scholarships with annual measurable goals. Additionally, this next fiscal year’s voluntary salary reductions from administrative leaders will go directly towards need-based scholarships for students.

6. Improve the process for receiving complaints of discrimination.

7. Develop a policy on social media usage for students that balances our institutional values and free speech. Currently one exists for faculty and staff.

8. Implement a “Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation” framework through Student Life modeled after the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ program to develop and track progress on co-curricular equity initiatives.

Faculty-Staff Related Action Steps:

9. Increase hiring and retention efforts for faculty and staff of color with the goal of meeting or exceeding relevant local, state, and national labor market demographics.

10. Work with the colleges and faculty to adopt the U.S. multicultural overlay as a universitywide model.

11. Develop and offer mandatory cultural competency workshops for faculty and staff.

Myers said these plans begin immediately.

Multiple Kansas State football players released statements saying they won’t practice, play or meet until their “demands are heard and actions taken.”

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