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SIU Discussion Focuses on Hate Speech, Accountability

Southern Illinois University

Equity and accountability were two major themes from Southern Illinois University's second "Conversation of Understanding" event - held Tuesday online.

The discussion focused on hate speech and social media, as people of color within the SIU community talked about their experiences on campus and online.

Tatiana Kelley is a fourth-year medical student, but was an undergrad in Carbondale when she saw a video using racial slurs and disturbing language aimed at people of color.

"That was enough to make me question, 'Do I want to stay here?' And then on top of all that, I have to still get my work done because I'm trying to progress to medical school."

Kelley says she was scared and shocked - but she wasn't surprised by the video. She and others say many times hurtful words and images are dismissed - as others say it's protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. But SIU Law Professor Steven Macias says it's more than that.

"Because often that shows that the person who is making that sort of statement doesn't fully recognize the harm that's caused by that sort of speech to the person who's the victim of that speech."

Members of the online panel pushed for accountability at the university, as President Dan Mahony announced new initiatives and goals. They say creating a culture of equity should be a part of the fabric of SIU, not just a goal or a box to check.


Jennifer Fuller joined Capitol News Illinois in July 2023 as the organization’s broadcast director. She will oversee the launch and operations of CNI’s new broadcast division.

Contact Jennifer Fuller at jfuller@capitolnewsillinois.com
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