Racial Incident at FPU

Black Student Union petition defaced by anonymous hacker

On September 11, Student Life sent an email to the FPU student body regarding a racial incident that occurred with an online petition for the Black Student Union. The email explained that an unidentified user hacked the petition, defacing it with racial slurs and derogatory language. Furthermore, the university announced that it would pursue student conduct charges and take legal action against the offender(s) when necessary.

We interviewed Dashaminique Smith, TUG student and leader of the Black Student Union club and petition. As with all prospective FPU clubs, Smith created the petition to acquire 30 student signatures in order to turn the aspiring Black Student Union into an official club at FPU. According to Smith, the petition was created as a public Google document on September 9, 2020. Less than 24 hours later, she learned that the document had been defaced. It was then quickly locked to prevent anyone else from making changes to it. According to Smith, she experienced a mix of anger, sadness and frustration upon seeing the document. 

“I was in a state of shock,” Smith stated. “I’ve dealt with my fair share of discrimination and prejudice before, but the last thing I expected was for it to happen when I try to become more involved with the FPU community.”

Taylor Starks, assistant director of the Office of Spiritual Formation and Diversity and club advisor to the BSU club, shared in Smith’s frustration. 

“I was frustrated—the amount of time and energy that someone put into the comments on the form was mind blowing, and I began to wonder how someone could be so hateful. I expected that there would be questions, or a little uncomfortability, surrounding the club, as it’s a new thing, but to see such a deliberate and targeted attack was really discouraging,” she said.

We contacted Dale Scully, Vice President of Student Life, to comment on the situation. Although Scully declined to comment on the specifics of the ongoing investigation, he expressed Student Life’s commitment to fostering inclusivity on campus and support for the creation of the Black Student Union. He explained that one of the efforts the university has taken over the past few months is in the form of the Bias Incident Advisory Team. 

“This team, comprised of faculty, staff and students, will advise the university on a comprehensive response to a bias incident when appropriate and, of even more importance, provide care, support and resources to any community member victimized by a biased event,” Scully stated. 

Smith, however, feels that the response from the university and Student Life has been less than adequate. 

“There doesn’t really seem to have been much of an investigation. It seems that this incident was swept under the rug. I was told that they tried to get IT to figure out who did it, but it was a public Google doc. I know they wanted to contact Google directly, but it has been TWO weeks and I heard they still didn’t do that. More definitely needs to be done,” she stated. 

We also reached out to Patty Salinas, Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Project Director of ALAS, to comment on the nature of the investigation, but she was unavailable for comment. 

Student Life encourages anyone who may have information regarding this incident to send it to this link: https://fresno.tfaforms.net/39

Author: Kassy Klein|Copy Editor & Timothy Myracle|Features Editor

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