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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Bullwhip incident results in controversy

Daniel Fleishman
On Saturday, Feb. 3, a bizarre incident took place in the Bryan quad that has created a scandal based around accusations of overt racism.Mona Olds, dean of student life, left a campus-wide voicemail on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 7, detailing the incident.
It began as follows: “As a result of an incident which took place in Bryan quad this weekend, a male student will be charged in the campus judicial system with disorderly conduct and endangering safety for his repeated use of a bullwhip.

“In addition, a security officer faces the most severe penalties for joining the student in that unsafe and improper conduct and for acting without regard for our community’s safety and well-being.”

No physical injuries were sustained as a result of the incident.

Students who call the owner of the whip racist cite the fact that bullwhips were used to punish and demean slaves before the Civil War.
Emmaleigh Petz-Ritter, a first year, is one of those students. She said, “The fact that it’s being used in the environment it was, where people were screaming and hollering and cheering and clapping, is not very different from the situation years ago when people would gather around when someone was being whipped or hanged and made an example out of.”

Once the names of the accused student and security guard had quietly spread from person to person through the campus, students not offended by the incident began to wonder just why that message had been left. Students wondered what made this event deserving of a special voice mail.

Said Olds, “In the day or two after the Bryan quad incident there were a few phone calls that came in the administration, both from outside the college and inside, wanting to know what had gone on, and asking for more information. We also learned that it had been discussed in five to six classes on campus.”

Olds later specified that in fact two dozen calls had been received by the school regarding the incident.

A special community forum was quickly organized, which took place that Thursday evening. Olds estimates that 50 to 60 people attended it.

However, some students who attended the meeting feel that it was out of control and ineffective.

Sophomore Jeni Robinson said, “There were a lot of things said and a lot of things not said, and no one was listening to anyone else. It wasn’t a friendly place.”

Emmaleigh Petz-Ritter voiced her opinion at that meeting. Later she said, “For me, I didn’t really feel like it was going to accomplish anything because unfortunately this is not something that can be done by administration. It’s something that students here at Guilford have to address.

“For anything to happen, it has to be addressed as a problem. And right now it’s not. It’s like people don’t feel like there’s racism on this campus, but this campus reflects the society at large, so obviously there is going to be racism on this campus.”

Jeff Carmichael, a sophomore, feels indifferent about the incident. “I think that it was stupid but it wasn’t racist,” he said. “It was him thinking, you know, ‘I’ve got a whip I’m going to be loud and go out and do it.’ There wasn’t a racially motivated reason for him doing it, so I don’t see how it’s a racial issue.”

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