WSU launches investigation into racial meme video

SARAH OLSEN | The Daily Evergreen

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WSU President Kirk Schulz released a formal statement this morning announcing an investigation into a video that uses footage from the WSU Trump Wall rally in October in order to depict African Americans negatively.

Schulz said the administration would compete a preliminary report of the investigation by June 1 and distribute it to the WSU campus community, and that they would hold the video’s author accountable.

The video in question uses footage from two videos WSU College Republicans President James Allsup took of the October rally and posted on his personal YouTube account. The clips from the footage are of three black women debating with Allsup about white privilege, as the original video shows.

However, the video only shows clips from the women’s side of the argument, and then a clip from a video of an “African dance,” according to the video’s description. The original video was posted on YouTube in June 2016 and shows five black men dancing near trees.

Warning: This video contains offensive content.

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Tyisha Brown El, a WSU senior who shared the video on Facebook, called it “disgusting and disturbing.”

“Do we really want to stay here if the WSU community doesn’t support us?” Brown El said.

She tweeted at Schulz, his wife and Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzalez at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, asking that them to take action.

Schulz responded on Twitter an hour later, saying, “This video is offensive and does not represent WSU values and our desire for an inclusive campus environment.”

“The attitudes, the behavior, and the language expressed in the video are not acceptable,” he added in his statement today. “Individuals with those beliefs are not welcome in our community.”

Schulz’s full statement can be viewed here.

Brown El said after seeing the video she immediately reached out to Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzalez, who responded to her that night, saying she and her staff were working to get to the bottom of the matter.

Allsup said he has seen the video, and there’s nothing he can do about their use of his footage because he believes it is in accordance with fair use.

“I’ve never interacted with those page admins and had no idea they’d be using the footage,” he said.

The Facebook page he is referring to has since been taken down and, similar to the watermark on the video, was called “The Real Ultra Meme Lord.” The page administrators deleted the original post of the video from Facebook at around 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday. It was originally posted on April 28, Brown El said.

Before the post was deleted, it reached almost 2,000 shares and had a wide array of comments both supporting and protesting it, according to screenshots Brown El took before the post was taken down.

“It’s just absolutely disturbing,” Brown El said.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated from its original version.