Belmont University ousted a student Monday after he made a social media post using the N-word to describe black NFL football players, who he said needed a "bullet in their head."
The former student's Snapchat post, which went viral Monday morning after outraged students and alumni shared a screenshot of the post on Facebook and Twitter, showed a picture of black players for the Philadelphia Eagles raising their fists during the national anthem. Text over the picture called the men "piece of s*** n*****s," included the threat of violence and said, "If you don't like this country get the hell out."
Football players across the country, including some Tennessee Titans, have raised their fists during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality toward minorities.
Belmont issued a statement Monday morning confirming that the post came from a freshman student and promising "immediate action." Shortly afterward, another university statement said that, following an investigation, "the person involved is no longer a student at Belmont."
"We reject comments rooted in racism or bigotry. This is not free speech — this is hate speech," the first statement read. "As a Christian institution, it is our goal to build a diverse and inclusive community where all members feel accepted, safe and valued."
The university did not identify the former student.
Belmont students and graduates took to social media to vent their anger and concern. Sophomore Isaiah Edwards, who is black, said he has heard his grandparents say for years that racism still exists. For him, the former student's post was chilling evidence that they were right.
"Being on such a beautiful campus, that supports diversity and inclusion, it is terrifying having someone speak about shooting individuals in the head and referring to them as n*****s," Edwards said in a message to The Tennessean. "I hope that Belmont uses this experience as a wake-up call that this type of disgusting behavior is real and prevalent on its campus."
Edwards added that this incident made it clear that Belmont's Black Student Association and other diversity groups played an essential role on campus.
Racism has bubbled up on campuses across the country recently as the Black Lives Matter movement and police shootings have led to more potent calls for racial equality. Students have repeatedly pressed Belmont president Bob Fisher on the issue, and Fisher has said increasing diversity among the students, faculty and staff is among his top priorities.
Belmont rejects comments rooted in racism or bigotry. See statement below. pic.twitter.com/xHvJKn5su5— Belmont University (@BelmontUniv) September 20, 2016