University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett said the university will launch an investigation after two students claimed they were verbally and physically harassed at the Oct. 1 football game against Rice University.
During the game an African-American student and her friends faced criticism from fellow fans when they did not stand up for the national anthem, one of the girls said on Facebook.
“It is okay to have a different opinion,” said Ranicia Taylor in a public post on her personal Facebook page. “I can respect people’s opinions but obviously everyone does not believe that … I did not shout at anyone, I did not scream black lives matter, I did not disrespect anyone who was standing.”
According to tweets from her personal Twitter account, Taylor and her roommate MeQuesha Thompson were called “unpatriotic f****” and “disrespectful b******.”
“We had alcohol and soda thrown at us,” Taylor tweeted. “I am not proud to be an American. I am really ashamed. I am not proud to go to Southern Miss. I really feel extremely sad.”
Taylor and her friends believe that the perpetrators were members of a USM fraternity.
On Monday, students and Black Lives Matter activists gathered at Shoemaker Square on USM’s campus to peacefully protest the alleged treatment of the two students.
In a statement obtained by the Student Printz, Dr. Rodney Bennett commented on the situation regarding the student.
“The University works to create an environment that is welcoming and inclusive of each member of its community, as well as visitors and fans of its athletics events,” Bennett said. “I am deeply concerned whenever members of our community feel they are not treated with dignity that each individual deserves.”
Bennett said the university will “fully investigate the event.”
Hiba Tahir is a writer at The Student Printz, USM’s student newspaper.