On Sunday, Jan. 28, Appalachian State suspended a men’s tennis team member for his derogatory comments made towards a North Carolina A&T State University tennis player John Wilson IV.
Wilson took to twitter after the match and called out the team member Spencer Brown, tweeting “Spencer told me, ‘At least I know my dad.’ Their coach responded by saying, ‘…we have a black guy on our team.’”
Wilson, a senior, is the student body president at N.C. A&T State University, and serves as the Minority Serving Institution Representative for the North Carolina School System, according to the N.C. A&T website.
According to the website, Wilson has been on the tennis team since his freshman year and is also the son of John Wilson III and Sherry Wilson.
In response to Brown’s comments, Chancellor Sheri Everts released an email statement Jan. 30 which said that the actions of the two men were “antithetical to the university’s commitment to creating a community that values diversity of thought, belief and community.”
Everts said that Appalachian would be “engaging a third party to provide an independent assessment of and guidance regarding the diversity and inclusion practices in our athletics programs.”
Athletics director Doug Gillan also suspended men’s tennis coach Bob Lake for four matches due to Lake’s conduct during the Jan. 28 match, according to an announcement on the Appalachian State sports website.
The Appalachian Black Student Association also released a written statement Feb. 1 via twitter, which said that the BSA was saddened, but not surprised to learn about Brown’s discriminatory comments. The BSA said that they will continue to be a safe space for black students on campus.
The BSA said that they will continue to work to improve the environment for students of color on campus, and denounced the behaviour of Brown and any other oppressive actions. The BSA also said that Brown’s comments represent only a fraction of the treatment that marginalized communities receive on campus.
According to App’s Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning website, Black students made up 3.7 percent of the student body in fall 2017, and minority students made up 16 percent.
The BSA wrote that this percentage of students has a major impact on App’s campus, and that the BSA will work to represent and celebrate those students’ achievements.
The Appalachian student body president Anderson Clayton also released an email response Jan. 31, “The racists statements made by Brown and Head Coach Bob Lake are not representative of what the Clayton/Lee Administration stands for and counter the values of diversity and inclusion we hold.”
Clayton also said that the apology would not correct Brown’s wrong doing, admitted that hate does exist on App’s campus and that the recent #Nohateappstate would not be enough to combat the marginalization of communities on campus.
Clayton’s response also coincided with the BSA’s, both saying that students of color receive racial discrimination on campus everyday.
Both the BSA and the Student Government Association said in their responses that they will be open to student comments, and that they will be ready to help marginalized students in any way they can.
When reached for comment, Brown said in an email that his comment was made after a statement was directed at him and that he has since apologized to the university.
Story by Aidan Moyer, News Editor, @aidan_moyer_