Colorado College Student Thaddeus Pryor thought he was being funny, but his suspension from school is no laughing matter. On anonymous chat site Yik Yak under a post about #blackwomenmatter, he responded with, “They matter, they’re just not hot.” That joke got him suspended initially for two years from the crunchy liberal arts school, but the punishment was lessened to one year because he had no past behavior issues.
Colorado College administrators claimed that Pryor violated code of conduct policies, including “abusive behavior” and “disruption of college activities”.
While Pryor’s post may be rude, offensive, and just plain wrong – perhaps he’s not acquainted with Halle Berry or Kerry Washington – is it really racist or abusive?
Does one have to be attracted to everyone in order to comply with university policy? What if he had said the same about obese people? What about people with blond hair? Would he have been suspended? At what point are we no longer allowed to have preferences in who we are attracted to? And, are we not allowed to express those preferences?
Colorado College is a private institution and, thus, not subject to the First Amendment, but it does claim to welcome a culture of free speech. Sometimes free speech isn’t pretty and doesn’t fit in a neat package.
But, the real issue here is that Colorado College, by many accounts, does have a problem with racism that’s gone unchecked. It sounds like the university administration used Pryor’s thoughtless joke to make an example out him, which is unfair to Pryor as well as the entire university because it doesn’t actually hold those who are racist accountable.
Sorry buddy, wrong place at the wrong time.