Two white University of Connecticut students were caught on video, yelling the N-word outside of on-campus apartments. After student-led protests calling out the issue of race at the predominantly white institution, the men have been arrested.
Students protested the incident on campus Monday morning, saying the men’s behavior called attention to the need for conversations about racist treatment at UConn. At the rally, hundreds of students and the college’s chapter of the NAACP called on administrators to take action.
The UConn Police Department arrested 21-year-olds Jarred Karal and Ryan Mucaj Monday and charged them with ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race. The state has a hate crime statute that outlaws racial slurs, and those convicted could have to pay a fine of up to $50 (about the same price as parking in a reserved space on campus without a decal) or spend up to 30 days in jail.
If you have any info regarding this racist recording please email firstname.lastname@example.org ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼 pic.twitter.com/WZxHwBeGZM
— UCONN NAACP (@naacpuconn) October 12, 2019
The police report says the incident occurred late at night Oct. 11 and the students were playing “a game in which they yelled vulgar words.” A third man reportedly was with them, but did not participate and was not charged.
Both Karal and Mucaj were released on written promises to appear in court Oct. 30.
Mucaj told campus police he did not remember saying the slur after a night of drinking, and Karal said in a statement to police, “I don’t believe that we had been shouting loud enough for other people to hear us,” according to affidavits.
Chants of “It’s more than just a word” flooded campus Monday morning while students protested the behavior — and what they said they believed was the administration’s slowness to react.
UConn’s NAACP chapter wrote a letter to the editor published in the student newspaper, The Daily Campus, on Monday. It included a list of demands NAACP members had for the campus to denounce racism.
The piece also alludes to a separate incident reported the day after the Oct. 11 incident which involved members of the Delta Epsilon Psi fraternity harassing another student into leaving a frat party because of her race. The letter demands the suspects in both cases be thoroughly investigated and held accountable and that the university publicly condemn these acts of racism.
The university is predominantly white (nearly 60%), with a Black population of just over 6%, according to Forbes. Students of color say these racially charged incidents have put them on high alert and that UConn must do more to prevent and punish racism.
However, in a statement Monday night, university president Thomas Katsouleas celebrated the university’s work in catching Karal and Mucaj.
“I’m grateful for the university’s collective effort in responding to this incident, especially the hard work of the UConn Police Department, which has been investigating the case since it was reported,” he said.
Regardless, students are not satisfied with how long and how much commotion it took for the university to denounce racist behavior.
“It’s pretty disappointing that our university took so long,” Areon Mangan, a student who helped organize the Monday protests, told the New York Times. “It seems like our voices, needs and concerns were not taken seriously until we had to cause a commotion.”