Lacrosse commit’s offer rescinded after Snapchat sparks outrage among students, community

COVID-19 is still in the sights of the university's spring-semester plan. 
Marquette Wire Stock photo.

COVID-19 is still in the sights of the university’s spring-semester plan. Marquette Wire Stock photo.

This story has been updated to further explain why the student involved is not being named at this time. 

A Marquette women’s lacrosse commit who posted an offensive message to her personal Snapchat story May 29 will not be attending Marquette University as her offers have been rescinded by the university as of this afternoon.

“Following an internal review involving the Division of Student Affairs, Undergraduate Admissions, Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, and Intercollegiate Athletics, and in alignment with our Guiding Values, Marquette University has made the decision to rescind the incoming student’s offer of admission and athletics scholarship, effective immediately,” Marquette University spokesperson Chris Stolarski said in an emailed statement.

The message read “some ppl think it’s ok to f—— kneel during the national anthem so it’s ok to kneel on someone’s head. come at me. y’all brainwashed. kind disgusting lowkey,” which prompted frustration from numerous Marquette students, alumni and student organizations over the weekend.

According to News 12 Long Island, the former commit who is white, is 17-years-old. The Marquette Wire is not naming her because she is a minor and has not been charged of any crime. We continue to reach out to her for comment.

Stolarski said the university was notified about the offensive comments on social media that related to death of George Floyd as well as other racially offensive language that was used.

“As a Catholic, Jesuit institution, we are called to build a nurturing, inclusive community where all people feel safe, supported, welcomed and celebrated,” Stolarski said in the email.

Black Student Council said Marquette’s history is based on “a system in which weaponizes religion as a means of colonization which is all one through one vessel of racism.” They said racial tension was high on campus due to ignorance that was not corrected.

“The correction must come at the hands of those who run the university and not only the victims of the ignorance,” BSC said in an Instagram direct message. “Black students on campus want a loving campus that is inviting, they want to see this and be able to feel it, not just by slogans. The greatest universities are the ones who unite all of campus and have fearless leaders who lead with purpose. Once Marquette obtains those leadership qualities then the campus will steer away from a mini surburbia and into a place which people from the city recognizes as allies & all students on campus feel welcomed.”

Zahhra Jazayeri, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, she said she wasn’t surprised when she saw the post.

“To see such a young person to show such hatred for another group, for another person, was difficult to stomach,” Jazayeri said. “I hoped Marquette would take action against this person to make sure she doesn’t affiliate herself with Marquette or with its students.”

Anusha Das, a 2020 Marquette alum, said as a predominantly white institution in Milwaukee, Marquette needs to confront the issue and make some institutional changes.

“As diversity numbers and more students of color are coming to campus, there needs to be more of a support system for them, more spaces and a lot more on an administrative end to show students that Marquette is here for them not in just a performative way,” Das said.

For 2020 Marquette alum Catie Petralia, she said she was immediately disgusted when she saw the post.

“Younger white kids just love to have the shock appeal I think. Shock racism. (It’s) totally destructive and awful. … I’m really hoping Marquette can be the difference during time and stand up and do something about this,” she said.

Maddie Kuehn, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she heard about the Snapchat post through a student organization group chat.

“With everything going on right now and things just being really tense politically and saying (what the commit said) I thought was extremely disrespectful,” Kuehn said. “That’s a very emotional topic for black people and people of color and just to say that, what she said, so openly, I didn’t know what to think at first. … How do people think like that and think that’s OK to say?”

Kuehn sent a complaint to Dr. Xavier Cole, Vice President of Student Affairs, who responded Sunday evening in an email saying many students have alerted the university and that they were working with the student and her family as the best course of action.

“You will find at University, you will encounter many differing viewpoints and opinions. Some offensive. Some right our morally and ethically wrong. This post falls in the latter category,” Cole said in the email sent to Kuehn. “We will proceed with this student to educate her about who and what we are as a Jesuit, Catholic institution, and we will hold her accountable for the harm this post has caused many. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”

Petralia referenced how the university acted back when a student was expelled due to a racist photo that was air dropped to other students. However, Petralia said she wasn’t sure if anything changes due to the fact this student is already committed to Marquette Athletics.

As of today, the commit’s social media accounts have been deactivated.

In a campus-wide email from University President Michael Lovell Saturday, he addressed the death of George Floyd, as well as the protests associated with racism in the country.

“If we are ever going to stop this cycle of violence, we need to address the root causes of disparity and access in our community and nationwide,” Lovell said in the email. “Marquette plays a critical leadership role win this necessary and difficult work through research, scholarship, service learning and, above all, the way we educate our students to be men and women for and with others.”

As a Jesuit institution, Lovell called on the Marquette community to celebrate its diversity and “pledge to live our Guiding Values.”

“We must all commit to living our mission by standing in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters,” Lovell said in the email. “We cannot stand for injustice. We must do better.”

When Das received the email, she said she was extremely underwhelmed with the lack of resources where students could donate to organizations, no references to Black Student Council or black leadership on campus.

“It was really just an empty, hollow response that shows that Marquette is not responsible and they’re just participating in a very performative way,” Das said. “I have worked very hard in the time that I was at Marquette to make sure that I left it better for students of color than I received it. Seeing that email really made me feel like the work that I did was, in a way, undone and that nothing had really changed systemically.”

Though Das said she’s proud to call herself a Marquette alum, the response to the recent protests by the university’s administration was disappointing.

“In higher education specifically, diversity has become this really empty buzz word that people use to shut students of color up,” Das said. “From an administrative standpoint, it has really shown me that Marquette values itself more as a business than as a service to bettering the world and community around it.”

After talking with faculty, Das said the university’s response has not “at all” reflected what she has discussed with faculty.

“I’ve had great faculty members that have taught me so much over the past four years and there are those support systems,” Das said. “But the university itself is not encouraging those support systems to freely speak.”

Das worked with Marquette’s honors program admissions and said she has seen an increase in students of color for the 2020-21 academic year.  She said she’s had dialogue with many students of color regarding the atmosphere on campus.

“To see students like the student who made those hateful comments as well as Marquette’s hollow response to the events going on in the world, it makes me feel almost like a liar to those students who I’ve told would be able to thrive on a campus like Marquette’s,” Das said. “I almost want to go to those students that I talked to and tell them that this is not a safe space for you and that there are other spaces you can seek out that will definitely allow you to thrive and I’m sorry that I’ve let you believe that Marquette could be a place for you to find yourself and better others.”

Lovell was not the only university leader to respond to the recent events across the country as Marquette athletic director Bill Scholl released a message to student athletes via Twitter Sunday morning.

“Nobody should have to live life in fear. Not in a place where freedom for all is the core principle on which this country was founded,” Scholl said. “Although we are closer to a return to campus, that day is not quite here yet. But no matter where we are geographically, we are called to be in support of one another.”

Scholl also referred to his almost six years on campus and how witnessing the student athletes’ service work is evidence of their commitment to the betterment of the Milwaukee community.

“It is now more important than ever for all of us to stand in unity, arm in arm, with our brothers and sisters within the Marquette Athletics family,” Scholl said. “We are a stronger and better community because of our diversity. … We all need to be committed to being there for each other. Live what we preach. Be the difference.”

Marquette men’s lacrosse coach Andrew Stimmel expressed his sadness about the acts of violence and hatred the world is faced with via Twitter Monday afternoon. He said the cause is silence from too many people that “condoned inequity, injustice, and racism for far too long.”

“I acknowledge that I have never walked a day in the shoes of a person of color but will continue trying to be part of the solution,” Stimmel said. “Accountability starts with each of us embracing the call to fight systemic racism. These words are meaningless without action. … WE will NOT let hate win. We will make a difference.”

Jazayeri said she is not black, but she is a minority at Marquette.

“Having somebody like that who preaches such hatred comes off as really threatening and I don’t want me or my black counterparts to have to put up with that hateful attitude from someone who is so young and has the opportunity to educate herself but just doesn’t,” Jazayeri said.

In terms of next steps, Petralia said since the university already does sexual assault and alcohol training, there should be an additional training for racial justice or racial sensitivity.

“A lot of Marquette students are coming in without having challenged their privilege and not even considering other people’s lives or experiences,” Petralia said. “They should really put their money where their mouth is because they’re out here emailing us telling us praying for a change or continuing to support the Black Lives Matter movement and protests against police brutality. But what about the racism within your school, what can you do better to address that?”

For those who are upset about Marquette’s response before the decision today, Das said they have a right to feel that way.

“You must challenge them while also doing it in an eloquent and acceptable manner,” Das said. “Systemic longterm change is going to happen if we all come together and make sure the university knows we’re not here to backdown quietly.”

The Marquette Wire was unable to get in touch with the former commit.

This story was written by Zoe Comerford. She can be reached at isabel.comerford@marquette.edu or on Twitter @zoe_comerford.