According to Reuters and Yahoo, “Three students have been expelled from...Bucknell University for <using threatening> racist language...on the school's student-run radio station...”
According to the story, “One of the students used a derogatory term for black people, <while> another said: 'Black people should be dead,' and a third <student> said: 'Lynch 'em' during a March 20 broadcast on WVBU, Bucknell's student-run radio station....”
Believe it or not, this is TOTALLY different from the 'racist' chants of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members a couple of weeks ago. In THAT situation, the video of the controversial event made its way to a black student organization at the University of Oklahoma (and to its administration) WITHOUT the permission of SAE members or guests at their event. This violation of Constitutional rights for their freedom of expression and rights to privacy are being legally combated in court.
However, when someone utters threats that are patently against community standards on a university-funded radio station, there is a uniquely rational cause for alarm in its hallowed halls – even if the university is 'private.'
Most private colleges and universities facilitate the use of federally-funded financial aide for their students. As part of this, the institutions must generally conduct their affairs so they do not conflict with federal laws, including active discrimination, or discriminatory activities. And fortunately, most of the time, these
Now, before you say, 'But, that fraternity in Oklahoma was spouting discriminatory stuff,' there is an important distinction. The fraternity was in an OFF-CAMPUS social event in which their PRIVACY WAS VIOLATED. Oddly enough, the First Amendment angle is actually peripheral to the ACTUAL issues, but still a viably seminal argument.
But, a campus radio station with varying degrees of responsibility to federal dictuends, the 'nasty-speech' of the aforementioned students put them in a 'bad place.' In fact, if as a radio station, Bucknell's WVBU is more closely under Federal Communications Commission policies which provide even more specific requirements against and sanctions for community-offensive language.
So, the downbeat of this is that the Bucknell students were dumb, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma will likely be vindicated eventually, with notes to their various rights being infringed upon.
NOTE: This analysis is written by Kevin James, Director of NSM Media. He has a bachelors degree in broadcast journalism and production, and has freelanced in the media for over 25 years. Even with all that knowledge and experience, he does accept that his comments and opinions may or may not necessarily coincide with those of the NSM.