MU temporarily suspends student accused of making racist remarks

Possible sanctions range from a warning to university expulsion.

MU will temporarily suspend a student who allegedly made “harassing and hostile remarks” toward another student, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Wednesday in a statement.

According to the statement, the student was identified by the MU Police Department during its investigation. Loftin told reporters earlier Wednesday MUPD was trying to determine whether students violated state law in their remarks related to recent discussion about screening “American Sniper” on campus. MU spokesman Christian Basi said he could not identity the student being suspended under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations.

“I have determined it is in the best interest of the university community,” Loftin said in the statement.

Because the investigation is ongoing, the university cannot say whether other students are under investigation, Basi said.

“Any and all threats of intimidation and harassment are taken seriously and will be investigated thoroughly,” he said.

Loftin said in the statement the suspension will be lifted once the formal student conduct process is complete, and a sanction will be issued based on the findings of the investigators. Page 17 of the “M” Book, MU’s official rules and regulations governing students, lists the following as possible sanctions:

-Warning. A notice in writing to the student that the student is violating or has violated institutional regulations.

-Probation. A written reprimand for violation of specified regulations. Probation is for a designated period of time and includes the probability of more severe sanctions if the student is found to be violating any institutional regulation(s) during the probationary period.

-Loss of Privileges. Denial of specified privileges for a designated period of time.

-Restitution. Compensation for loss, damage, or injury to the University or University property. This may take the form of appropriate service and/or monetary or material replacement.

-Discretionary Sanctions. Work assignments, service to the University, or other related discretionary assignments.

-Residence Hall Suspension. Separation of the student from the residence halls for a definite period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. Conditions for readmission may be specified.

-Residence Hall Expulsion. Permanent separation of the student from the residence halls.

-University Dismissal. An involuntary separation of the student from the institution for misconduct. It is less than permanent in nature and does not imply or state a minimum separation time.

-University Suspension. Separation of the student from the University for a definite period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. Conditions for readmission may be specified.

-University Expulsion. Permanent separation of the student from the University.

Basi said he believes several factors influenced Loftin’s decision.

Students heavily criticized Loftin during the race relations forum Tuesday night, saying university administration was too reactive in its response to student concerns about campus climate.

Students said they do not feel safe on campus and recalled personal experiences of harassment and discrimination.

When Loftin asked the forum’s audience if they wanted him to ignore student leadership on the screening of “American Sniper” and take action, they responded with a resounding “yes.”

“I don’t have the power,” Loftin said at the forum. “There are limits to things I can and cannot do.”

Missouri Students Association President Payton Head said at the forum the decision to not cancel the screening was not an easy one, and that he wanted to consider the overall safety of students.

“We take full accountability for it,” he said. “The last thing I want is for any students to feel unsafe on this campus, because I know what it feels like to be unsafe on this campus.”

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