Hateful posts targeting South Asian students at Boston College emerged on an exclusive anonymous social media app over the weekend.
On Wednesday, the South Asian Student Association (SASA) condemned the racially charged posts published on Herrd, an app currently available exclusively to Boston College students, student publication The Heights reported.
The posts, which pertained to specific students, insulted purported physical attributes of South Asians and compared the group to other minority communities at the school.
SASA member Ishaan Kaushal expressed surprise about the posts, noting that while they have seen microaggressions or casual racism on campus before, finding it “so widespread on Herrd, and especially people liking the messages and people being individually called out is what threw us off guard.”
According to Kaushal, two of the posts read, ”If my Marriage Pact was a South Asian, I would want to kill myself” and “If your last name is Patel, Kumar, Singh, Gupta, or Dhaliwal, like please shut up.”
Another post reportedly asked, “Oh, why do Indians always own gas stations or hotels?” and received a response that read, “They don’t usually own it because they’re too poor for that. They just work there.”
Kaushal pointed out how racism disguised as jokes can eventually escalate to explicit racism.
“We wanted to let people know that doing things like naming individuals or attacking physical appearances is just absolutely not OK,” he added.
Kaushal said comments about the physical features of South Asians are hurtful because they could affect international students who want to study at Boston College.
“I’m really worried about future BC students who are from South Asia, or South Asian international students coming to a campus and just trying to get an education and feel like they belong, being made fun of for something they can’t control,” Kaushal said.
Student and Herrd co-founder Carter Beaulieu said the app has removed 10-15 posts that one user reportedly uploaded over the course of a short period.
Herrd notified the offender via email, temporarily banned the person and reported the incident to the college administration.
“We as an app don’t enforce decisions that a school might make as far as disciplinary action, but we provide everything that they need in order to make a decision,” Beaulieu said.
The people behind the app are now working with Boston College’s Student Affairs to have the issue resolved with the Office of Student Conduct.
While Kaushal commended Herrd for working with the college’s administration to address the incident, he noted that there are still areas the app can improve on.
“I definitely think Herrd does need to step in at times when things like bias are more talked about on Herrd, because South Asians being mentioned on Herrd isn’t the first time that Herrd has [had an] almost massive wave of targeting specific groups of people’s identities,” he said.
Launched by Beaulieu and co-founder Isaiah Mathieu last year, the app requires users to log in with their university emails, making it easier to trace harmful or hateful posts back to the user who posted them.
According to the founders, they hope to expand the app’s user base to other college campuses in the future.
Featured Image via Boston College