UConn Student’s ‘Chinese People Eat Bats’ TikTok Sparks Anger in the College Community
By Kimberly Nguyen
June 18, 2020
University of Connecticut student Olivia Davidson faced backlash on social media when a video she made at the end of March suggested that Chinese people eat bats.
In the now-deleted TikTok, Davidson has the caption “Chinese person” followed by “sees bat” and can be seen holding utensils as she gives two thumbs up. The video follows a rise in anti-Asian racism during the pandemic, with other TikToks in the past blaming Chinese people for being spreaders of COVID-19.
A member of the national women’s fraternity Alpha Chi Omega, Davidson was suspended from the group and a formal apology was posted by the UConn chapter on Instagram.
The organization outlined three major steps they would take to combat racism, including commitment, action and community conversation.
The executive board of Alpha Chi Omega was told of the incident and responded immediately, calling the student into question.
“As of Monday, she is no longer a member. Of course, we know that individual discipline alone is insufficient, which is why we’ve also outlined a series of additional commitments, action and plans for engagement that our chapter as a whole will undertake,” the organization told NextShark. “We must take responsibility for the actions of any of our members – including setting expectations that our members will hold each other accountable when and if they ever see this sort of behavior. Ultimately, we want to move forward as more aware, engaged and accountable members of the UConn community.”
The executive board of the organization was criticized for not taking harsher actions on Davidson. Online users questioned why the video only recently came to light. Some criticized the past acts of racism by the organization, while others defended the Asian community.
Davidson issued an apology in an Instagram post, saying that she would take a break from social media due to the death threats she has received. She also said she would educate herself.
“That video I made is something that I will forever regret, and from the bottom of my heart I am so incredibly sorry for how insensitive, disrespectful, and offensive it is. It was completely wrong of me,” she wrote. “It is the definition of ignorance and white privilege. I am in need of thorough education, which I will be executing through a lot of reading and self reflecting.”
The UConn Chinese Undergraduate Student Association made a post on Instagram in response to Davidson. The executive board expressed support for their members, acknowledging those who may have personally been affected by the video.
The organization is determined to pursue justice for the Asian American community at UConn.
“This bigotry is sad to see in our university community and these racist messages are highly inappropriate, now and every day,” they told NextShark. “We believe that our campus community should never be complicit in the spread of racism against others. It is the duty of the University of Connecticut to foster a learning environment where every student feels respected and safe to live as their authentic selves, and there is absolutely no place for this type of racist behavior.”
The Asian American Cultural Center, a place of community for Asian organizations on campus including the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association, was founded due to the lack of administrative response to racism against eight students of Asian descent in 1987.
The university is aware of the situation and released a public statement from the president, Thomas Katsouleas.
“The University of Connecticut is committed to addressing racial injustice and to doing everything in its power to ensure racial justice and equity,” the post read.
UConn is taking steps to combat racism on campus and is also aware of Davidson’s video, according to university spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz. Many students have called for Davidson’s expulsion from the university.
“This social media post and others that have been brought to our attention are deeply upsetting, and have been very hurtful to members of the UConn community,” Reitz told NextShark.
“Although we’re prohibited by federal privacy laws from discussing individual students, generally speaking, an incoming student could see their admissions offer rescinded or, if they are already enrolled, they could face a conduct review hearing and potential sanctions if it’s determined they violated the Student Code of Conduct. Those sanctions could include up to suspension and/or expulsion.”
Feature Images via Video Screenshots
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