Thousands of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are calling for the expulsion of a white student caught on video using racial slurs and threatening to harm Black people.
In the video, a UW-Madison student, who has been identified on social media as Audrey Godlewski, goes on a racist rant threatening to "haunt every f**king little n**ger who f**king did me wrong,” per Revolt.
“I literally hate all [of] them," she continued. "I’m gonna make them pick f**king cotton in the fields all day long till they f**king die of f**king thirst, and they’re literally — their bodies are gonna dry out because of how much cotton they’re picking for me.”
The university condemned the video on Monday (May 1), saying it was deeply harmful and offensive. However, as calls for the student's expulsion grew, UW-Madison released a second statement on Tuesday (May 2), saying that the First Amendment "protects a person’s right to say very offensive and hateful things."
"Some have called for the speaker of these racist words to be expelled. Some have called for worse. Simply stated, the law does not allow the university to take punitive action for words like these spoken in private spaces, even when those words are racist and hateful,” Tuesday's statement reads.
As of Wednesday (May 3), UW-Madison received roughly 1,000 hate and bias reports related to the video, university spokesperson Kelly Tyrrell said. Over 39,000 people also signed an online petition calling for the student's expulsion. Hundreds of students protested on Wednesday in Bascom Hall, which is where UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin and other administrators work.
UW-Madison is a predominately white institution (PWI) that has never boasted more than a 3 percent Black student population.
LaVar Charleston, the university's chief diversity officer, said the video shows there is work to do in making the campus a safe space for all demographics.
"I deeply hope and believe that such language and sentiment are not at all commonplace in our community, in either private spaces or public ones," he said in a statement. "But I also recognize that part of why this is so painful is that it may not be nearly as rare as it should be, perhaps in our community, as well as in society writ large."