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Tensions are high for minority students post-election

LGBTQ and African American students have been the targets of harassment, echoing a national trend

Students chant during a protest of the 2016 presidential election results on Mill Avenue near the ASU Tempe campus on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.
Students chant during a protest of the 2016 presidential election results on Mill Avenue near the ASU Tempe campus on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

In the wake of a controversial presidential election, tensions among some minority student groups are high, with several students reporting threats on campus since Donald Trump became president-elect.

On Friday, three days after the election, a racially charged threat against African American students was found on campus.

At the time, ASU officials released a statement saying “The graffiti that a student found in an ASU dorm is saddening and does not represent the views of the ASU community,” and “ensuring the safety and security of our students is a top priority, and the University undertakes extensive efforts to ensure that our community is inclusive and respectful of everyone.”

Katie Harris, ASU Police Department spokesperson, said the investigation was at a standstill.

“There’s nothing else to report,” she said. “It was an isolated incident.”

Harris added that there were no other reported instances of hate-speech or threats at ASU following the presidential election.

However, despite a lack of reports, some students have come forward with stories of verbal abuse and scare-tactics in the days since the election.

Ben Viton is one of those students. A film practices and production sophomore, Viton is openly gay.

One day after the election, he said, two men, whom he believes are students, shouted slurs at him.

“I was walking through the parking lot and minding my own business,” Viton said. “These two guys (were) walking in the opposite direction, and they saw my anti-trump crop top. As I'm walking past, they turn to me and say ‘what does that shirt say?’”

Viton said the men noticed his crop-top and short shorts, what he described as an outfit that made it clear he was gay, and began insulting him.

“Their voices start elevating,” he said. “They started screaming (expletives) at me.”

Viton continued walking and believed the incident was over. But as he prepared to cross the street at an intersection down the road, the men came up to him in a car, nearly hitting him.

“All of a sudden a car plows through and almost hits me,” he said. “Practically going up on the curb to try and scare me. It's something that shakes me (even now).

Viton did not report the incident to police because he thought nothing would be done.

I didn’t (report it) because I knew this was one of plenty of things that are going on,” he said. “(Plus,) what are they going to do? There’s no tracking down these people, it was off campus.”

On Tuesday, one week after the election, Mark Searle, the executive vice president and University provost of ASU, sent an email to the student body, hoping to calm the tensions on campus.

“Now and in the future, ASU remains committed to supporting our students’ success, to encouraging diversity and inclusion, and to enhancing the public good through research that improves peoples’ lives,” he said in the email. “These principles are inviolate.”

Searle further denounced hate speech and uncivil discourse among students.

“ASU’s community of scholars will thrive as a diverse and vibrant academic enterprise only if we engage in the respectful and civil exchange of ideas from multiple and varied perspectives,” he said. “Without an honest dialogue about even the most difficult issues, we will not progress beyond our differences or find the kinds of ... solutions upon which our collective future so clearly depends.”

If any student who has experienced discrimination since the election would like to speak about their experience, please contact the reporter.

Reach the reporter at or follow and @ckm_news on Twitter.

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