Miami University came under fire late Wednesday night after its Instagram account, @miamiuniversity, liked a comment in support of the Proud Boys that also contained offensive language.
The comment, which was made on a Nov. 18 post promoting mask wearing and other COVID-19 guidelines on campus, was made in reply to another comment asking the university to “fix the issue” of the Proud Boys and Patriot Front spreading propaganda on campus. Both the Proud Boys and Patriot Front are designated as white nationalist hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit legal advocacy center that tracks hate groups nationwide.
“...you mean the group that is protecting free speech because libtards seem to struggle understanding what free speech is,” the liked comment read.
Jamie Hunt, vice president and chief marketing and communications officer, wrote in an email to The Miami Student that the account’s administrator unintentionally liked the comment.
“We apologize to our community for this unintentional engagement,” Hunt wrote. “An account administrator removed the ‘like’ as soon as we were made aware of this careless mistake. There is no excuse for engaging with this post and we are taking measures to ensure this does not happen again.”
The like was removed from the comment on Thanksgiving, about a week after the comment was originally posted. The comment remains up on Miami’s page.
“Be assured the comments made by this user do not represent the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Hunt wrote.
But before the like was removed, many Miami students took notice and began making posts of their own. Many students posted to their Instagram stories, Twitter feeds or made comments on the original post throughout Wednesday and Thursday.
The original post has garnered 264 comments as of Nov. 28.
Among those who commented on Miami’s post were Student Body President Jannie Kamara and ASG Parliamentarian Evan Gates. While both were disappointed to see the comment had been liked, they both believe the fact that the comment was there in the first place is more indicative of a larger issue on campus.
“We just had a recent flare up of Patriot Front stickers,” Kamara said. “How do we keep on seeing these patterns come in time and time again, and we saw this huge, like, posting on campus and we still have yet to do something [about it]?”
Kamara said she’s thankful for Miami’s apology but wants to continue to work on educating the student body on issues of diversity.
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Gates said removing the like from the comment is not enough.
“They didn't take down the original comment,” Gates said. “They didn't put a statement on their story, and they still really haven't done anything. They still haven't condemned the issue.”
Gates said he’s still waiting for Miami to address some of the white supremacist rhetoric found on campus.
“It's pretty easy to look at all the stickers that have gone around campus for the Proud Boys, that have swastikas on them, that say Patriot Front, that say ‘better dead than red,’” Gates said. “I mean, take down those stickers and make a statement that says ‘this is not acceptable.’”
Gates said some of his friends are fearful to come to campus because they feel like they could be in danger.
“This is not a tomorrow issue; this is a today issue,” Gates said. “I don't care if it's Thanksgiving, it's today. The issue is today. Your students are here today.”