The hashtag #BlackOnCampus trended nationally on social media Thursday, reflecting the growing conversation about racial tensions at institutions of higher education that was sparked by recent unrest at the University of Missouri.
Mizzou’s president, Tim Wolfe, resigned this week after frustration with his handling of alleged racial incidents on campus led to protests, boycotts, and the threat of a strike by black players on the school’s football team. Wolfe called stepping down an act of “love” and implored the school’s faculty and staff to do a better job of “listening to each other.”
In theory, the #BlackOnCampus hashtag can be a tool used to help accomplish that goal. So far, the thread has been a space for students of color to vent their anger and anxiety about being ostracized and discriminated against in what they expected to be a safe space. So far, students have described the humiliation of being presumed to be a cafeteria worker and the disillusionment of being the lone person of color in an all-white class, among other experiences.
Even Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has weighed in. “I’m listening to the #BlackOnCampus conversation. It’s time to address structural racism on college campuses,” he tweeted on Thursday.
The #BlackOnCampus hashtag started in earnest after the fallout from Mizzou captured headlines across the country. In the aftermath of Wolfe’s departure, tensions on the campus have not ceased. Black students on campus have been subjected to alleged online threats (which have led to two arrests), while protesters have also taken heat for getting physical with reporters.
Activists on campus are currently occupying a tent city and the organization that has been behind many of the protests, Concerned Student 1950, has said they intend to keep pushing for more social justice programs and diversity at the university.
Meanwhile, their movement is spreading to other campuses throughout the country, including UCLA, Columbia and the University of North Carolina, to name a few. As of Thursday morning, there were over 100,000 mentions of the hashtag and #BlackOnCampus has spawned an inevitable blacklash, too: – a #WhiteOnCampus hashtag, which has been attached to some racially insensitive tweets, is making the rounds.