On Wednesday night, a Ramapo College student accessed an official college listserv without authorization to send an email asking undergraduates to sign a petition for a partial tuition reimbursement. While more than 100 students replied to the email with memes and social media handles, some students replied to the email with racist language.
The original email was sent by a student encouraging others to sign a Change petition urging Ramapo College to refund students 20 percent of the spring semester's tuition. Responses included complaints, memes and self promotions on TikTok and CashApp, but several students instead chose to respond to the email using derogatory language.
President Peter Mercer swiftly condemned the actions of the students in an email later that night, stating that violators of Ramapo College policy will be held “accountable at every level.”
On Thursday, Chief Equity and Diversity Officer Nicole Morgan Agard sent an email to students and faculty, stating that racism has no place at Ramapo.
"I encourage you to continue to recognize the role that each and everyone of us must assume to ensure that Ramapo is a safe and inclusive campus," she stated in the email. "We are better than this, Ramapo."
The sentiment in the email was shared by many SGA representatives and other students on campus.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the whole email thread issue had to occur. Students are busy with finals and our situations are as tough as it is, with a pandemic going on,” said SGA President Anjali Patel in an email.
“Racist messages are by no means tolerated by Ramapo College, and students should rest assured that those that were involved in perpetuating this racism, unethical sending of emails, and frustration will be thoroughly investigated and punished,” Patel continued. “We will ensure that this will not happen again.”
Contemporary Arts Senator and Public Relations Secretary Jason Giachetti saw the email responses begin with fun and games, but once he saw racist emails, knew it had taken a turn.
"It's not fair for those who are pretty much forced to view such content," he said in an email.
Many students took to Twitter and Instagram to complain about the volume of emails they were receiving and the racist statements that students were making.
“Today I was added to a Ramapo College email thread with many other students. I couldn’t help but notice the RACISM coming from a few people,” tweeted @NTejadaaa. “Behavior like this is unacceptable and shouldn’t be ignored. I hope the appropriate action gets taken.”
“Craziness ensuing with Ramapo College of New Jersey students,” tweeted @tienetumbao48. “From what started as a student-led mass email to the student body regarding a petition demanding some sort of refund turned into full-on chaos with students replying all. Embedded in the chain of emails- racism.”
The college listserv is meant for official use by faculty to distribute important information throughout the college, not for personal use by students. It is unclear how the student was able to access the listserv.
“Ramapo is a small college community which should breed acceptance and respect for all students and faculty. Those who are receiving higher education should be aiming to expand their knowledge, so it was very disheartening to see the words and images being sent out tonight,” said junior Barbara Mello in an email, who is the treasurer of the Psychology Affiliation.
“Everyone responsible needs to do their part to understand their biases and take action to be an ally, not an oppressor. This shouldn’t be something going on at Ramapo, and I’m ashamed that it did,” she continued.
The ITS department has shut down the distribution list, so there will be no further email chains appearing in students’ inboxes.
“On a day when the Governor extended the Stay-At-Home Order for another 30 days through June 6, these are times when we, as a community, should be coming together in support of one another,” Mercer stated in his email to the college. “I am disappointed and disgusted with the behaviors displayed by some of you this evening.”