Racially-Charged Posts Target Student on Yik Yak

By Christian Jambora

Racially-charged comments appeared on Yik Yak last week, an anonymous social media app, that criticized statements made by Student Government Association (SGA) First-Year Senator Charles Rainey ’19 concerning racism on campus. The posts appeared following the publishing of a Campus article that detailed two bills Rainey had written criticizing the College’s MLK Today event and calling on President of the College Laurie L. Patton to condemn former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments regarding black students on college campuses.

Among the posts were the following:

We don’t like Rainey because he’s making up stuff about racism at Midd like if we freed you all from slavery what more do you want

Rainey is an attention whore, sexual predator, and anti-white jigaboo. Impeach him


After these posts appeared Rainey sought support and guidance from administrators, including his commons dean, Chief Diversity Officer Miguel Fernández and Dean of Students Baishakhi Taylor. The anonymous nature of the platform left Rainey little remedy; Rainey explained that only violent threats would spur an investigation into the posters, like the ones posted on Yik Yak at the University of Missouri in November.

“Ironically, these comments are only aiding me in my efforts to ameliorate this institution,” he said. “It is my hope that this coordinated, racist attack on my endeavors and character has served as a reminder for the faculty, staff, administration and all of our 2,500 students here that our campus is immensely plagued by racism. According to the responses [on Yik Yak], a substantial portion of our community is not comfortable with idea of an inclusive Middlebury. Personally, it is very distressing that we have members of our community who felt so threatened by the prospect of truly embracing historically marginalized groups on this campus, in this case students of African descent, that they were inclined to resort to racially-charged hate speech in order to voice their discomfort. Nonetheless, with great progress comes great resistance. My goal remains the same. I will continue to fight for true inclusivity on this campus and continue the much-needed conversation around this substantial issue offline, where it will be most productive.”

Patton addressed incidents like Rainey’s in an email sent to students on March 8. In it she reiterated the first community standard in the student handbook, “cultivating respect and responsibility for self, others, and our shared environment,” and urged students to abide by it in their interactions especially as the College has broached sensitive “issues of race, gender, privilege and inclusivity.”

“The anonymity and impersonal quality of some social media sites has at times shown itself to be a less considerate environment,” she wrote. “While they can be places of kindness and generosity, they also can be platforms for disrespect, revenge, and hate. When this happens, it must be condemned by all. Everyone in our community should understand the damaging effect that personal comments or attacks — anonymous or otherwise — can have on individuals and on the community as a whole.”