RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – One student has been expelled and three others are being punished for their roles in a racially charged uproar on a Virginia college campus the night of President Barack Obama’s re-election, the school said Thursday.
They were among approximately 40 students who gathered outside the Minority Student Union at Hampden-Sydney College on the night of Nov. 6 within minutes after Obama won a second term. Some shouted racial slurs, tossed bottles, set off fireworks and threatened physical violence. No one was injured inside the house, and some left the building to peacefully confront the crowd, as did other students.
The four were found guilty by a student court of violating the college’s student code of conduct, the school said in a statement released to The Associated Press. Hampden-Sydney spokesman Thomas H. Shomo said the students are not being identified, and that college administrators never comment on student court verdicts.
Chris Howard, the all-male school’s first African-American president, condemned the students’ actions as a “harmful, senseless episode” in an email to parents after the incident. “There is no place for bigotry or racism on this campus,” he wrote.
The expelled student was found guilty of disruptive and lewd behavior and harassment. The other three were found guilty of violating the code of student conduct. They included lewd behavior, hazardous acts and fireworks violations. The college did not elaborate on the charges.
Each was put on probation and ordered to do community service ranging from 25 to 100 hours.
The racially tinged uproar after Obama’s re-election was among two on U.S. campuses. A protest at the University of Mississippi in Oxford involved about 400 people, some of whom shouted racial slurs. Two people were arrested.
The night after the Hampden-Sydney problems, nearly 300 members of the campus community gathered to discuss what had happened. Many spoke out against the actions of the students outside the union, Howard said.
“There were a lot more at that town hall meeting denouncing what happened than the knuckleheads who were misbehaving terribly that night,” Howard said in an interview then.
Hampden-Sydney, located about 60 miles southwest of Richmond, has a black enrollment approaching 9 percent of its 1,080 students. The private, tradition-bound school was founded in 1775 and is one of only three all-male colleges in the U.S.
The campus is known for its decorum and honor code. Visitors are greeted by passers-by, backpacks are left lying around without fear of theft and students dress in coat and tie for football games.
Students are expected to hew two standards of honorable behavior:
“The Hampden-Sydney student will behave as a gentleman at all times and in all places.”
“The Hampden-Sydney student will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.”
Its former students have included a president, William Henry Harrison, and comedian Stephen Colbert.
Szkotak can be reached on Twitter at
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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