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Photo of a man making a poster
Zoe Malen / Nevada Sagebrush
Students make signs for the upcoming protest the Black Student Organization on April 11. A protest is planned for the following Tuesday in front of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.

Students packed into the Multicultural Center in the Joe Crowley Student Union on April 11 to discuss a recent incident of racism on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. In the early morning hours of April 5 a white male student was filmed using a racial slur on the seventh floor of Argenta Hall.

The video shows a white male student shouting the n-word with a hard ‘R’ towards the Living Learning Community which primarily houses students of color.

UNR officials provided a statement to The Nevada Sagebrush saying that they are aware of the video and there are steps being taken.

“This matter has been referred to Residential Life’s On-Campus Housing Rules and Conduct, as well as the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX for review,” said Scott Walquist, UNR director of communications. “We will continue to encourage everyone on our campus to remember to show respect, understanding and empathy for others.”

Brian Sandoval, University of Nevada, Reno president, released a statement on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday explaining that the incident is currently under review.

“Whenever there are words and acts that hurt, our entire institution suffers, and I apologize to everyone affected by this language,” said Sandoval on X.

According to student leaders in the Black Student Organization, Residential Life and Housing cannot take disciplinary measures against the use of the slur due to free speech, but will instead write them up for disrupting during quiet hours.

Additionally, the student who used the slur attempted to attend the BSO meeting, but members of the organization “politely asked them to leave.”

Student leaders in the BSO quickly organized a meeting and round table on Thursday after the video started surfacing on social media. The meeting discussed plans for reform, response and plans for a protest next week. The BSO will be taking the plans and demands discussed at the meeting to Brian Sandoval, president of UNR, when they meet the following week.

Helen Girma and Virchelle Banks, presidents of BSO, and Krystal Watson, vice president of BSO, led the meeting and roundtable discussion which made actionable plans and recommendations for the university to handle this situation. Other leaders on campus were also present, including ASUN senators and members of the executive board, professors and Whitney Hughes, assistant dean of Student Conduct.

Hughes was at the meeting to emphasize safety for students during the protest and whilst they actively speak out against the instance of racism and all racism on campus.

“Safety is not a guarantee,” said Hughes. “You’re only as safe as the most dangerous person in the room.”

Additionally, Hughes gave advice on how to make their demands the most effective when protesting: “I came just to remind everyone as you decide how to choose individually or collectively to respond is that you are strategic [and] what you are asking for is measurable.”

During the meeting, many Black students chronicled their own racist experiences, emphasizing this incident is not singular, saying the university is not doing enough to protect students of color and admonish racism.

Students critiqued Brian Sandoval, UNR President, and his ways of responding to incidents on campus and feel that his responses are not genuine and do not fully acknowledge the events. 

“Any time we bring up a racial matter or anything of discrimination to the university, they kind of just sweep it under the rug,” said Watson. “UNR claims to be very diverse and they claim that they want to see different populations of people of color on campus, but at the end of the day, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we don’t feel that support.”

Many students expressed the importance for their peers to speak up and share their own experiences within their time at the university and how it has negatively impacted them.

Sarah Jackson is a resident on the seventh floor of Argenta Hall, and she now feels uncomfortable after the recent events that took place on her floor. 

“It’s supposed to be a safe space for us to live in, sleep in, dine and have fun with our friends,” said Jackson. “But now there’s people coming into our spaces saying slurs and obviously now we’re uncomfortable”

Girma, who was a resident assistant herself, said she used to see the n-word written on whiteboards, but was “not allowed” to erase it because of free speech purposes.

The situation that caused the gathering didn’t quite come as a surprise. Many of the attendees at the meeting recall previous events in their own lives, in media coverage, on social media and also at the university where students of color were not able to feel safe but rather targeted.

A huge submission to the conversation is how important and vital it is for students to be able to feel safe in their place of living. Considering the event occurred in residence hall which is a designated safe space on campus — many interpret the intentions of the perpetrator to have a foul undertone.

There was great concern about the lack of consequences the perpetrator has received thus far and the message it shares to those who accept their viewpoint. Many feel that it is essential that the person from the video whose words have caused significant harm, suffer some form of consequence rather than a simple slap on the wrist.

A topic that drew a lot of attention and concern is how some students frequently downplay racist jokes, comments or implicit biases. There is a significant desire to call out this phenomenon so students will participate in dissolving it rather than ignoring it in the future.

White students who attended as allies the importance of potentially implementing diversity and inclusion training for those who want to work at or attend the university. Their hope is to introduce a well-structured cultural and educational framework from the beginning, hoping it will educate students further and defer instances of racism on campus.

The Black Student Organization will be holding the protest under the name “Hating one is hating all” on April 16 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. in front of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. They emphasized to keep the protest peaceful.

This is a developing story please check back for updates

Nick Stewart and Gabe Kanae can be reached at or or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.

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