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UH Debate Team Accused of Mocking Black Debate Opponents
By News Release @ 5:45 AM :: 2771 Views :: Higher Education

Provost message: Students accused of racism

(Editor's Note: There is no video of this debate anywhere on the internet.)

UH News April 29, 2021

This message was shared with the students, faculty and staff of the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa on April 29, 2021.

Aloha UH Mānoa ʻohana,

As you may have seen in local and national media reports, a group competing in a debate competition has been accused of making racist taunts to an opposing team from Morehouse College, a historically black college. We still do not have all of the facts of the incident yet, as the matter is being investigated by the Office of Student Conduct to determine if there were violations of the campus conduct code. The group of students is not officially part of any UH school or department or a registered student organization. The students had entered as an unaffiliated independent organization but did compete under our university’s name. I am reaching out to the provost of Morehouse College promising a full investigation and expressing my hope that this incident will lead to a collaborative relationship between our schools.

We may be one of the most diverse campuses in the country, but we are not immune from racism or its impacts. Though I cannot yet speak to the specifics of this incident, I will say again, racism cannot and will not be tolerated at UH Mānoa. If racism is not confronted, there is no hope for peace and social justice. As I said in my January 18 campus message, there is difficult work ahead to turn that hope into reality; this work must be undertaken with self reflection and assessment. Please continue to engage with the activities and resources available through our Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center and our Commission on Racism and Bias.

As provost, I am committed to social justice, truth, respect and decency. I ask all of you to stand with me and work to make our campus, our state and our world, a better place.

Mahalo nui loa,
Michael Bruno
UH Mānoa Provost

  *   *   *   *   *

UH Mānoa Investigating Accusations of Racism During Debate Competition

HPR: … The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is conducting an investigation into students who debate participants say made racist remarks to students from Morehouse College -- a historically Black men's college.

The incident happened during a national debate competition over Zoom.

The Undefeated -- an online publication who first reported on this issue -- said the students from Morehouse College experienced mockery and were racially caricatured when speaking.

In a statement, UH Mānoa Provost Michael Bruno said, “The students had entered as an unaffiliated independent organization but did compete under our university’s name.”

Morehouse College withdrew from the debate tournament and other teams followed, leading to a cancellation of the entire event.

In a prior statement to The Undefeated, UH Mānoa spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said, "As a higher education institution dedicated to the inclusion and advancement of all peoples, UH condemns all acts of racism, discrimination, bigotry and hate. The group involved is not officially part of any UH school or department, is not a registered student organization and does not have a faculty adviser. The Office of Student Conduct is determining if there were violations of the campus conduct code, which could lead to suspension or expulsion." ….

read … UH Mānoa Investigating Accusations of Racism During Debate Competition

April 18, 2021: Morehouse College Statement

PDF: Organizers’ Statement

April 28, 2021: “The breaking point came as the judges for the round dismissed the arguments of the Morehouse team and awarded points to the other schools.”

DB: Morehouse Debate Team Pulls Out of Tournament After Racist Taunts

AJC: Morehouse, Spelman pulled out of debate competition, citing racist taunts

Yahoo: Morehouse debate team leaves tournament over ‘anti-Black’ taunts

BET: Morehouse College Debate Team Withdrew From National Tournament After Racial Taunts From Other Schools

April 30, 2021: Morehouse team captain, senior Daniel Edwards, says in Round 5 students from other teams broke the tournament's rules by turning on their Zoom cameras while the Morehouse team was speaking.

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