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Manhattan, K.S. — There isn’t an arena that politics has not yet entered and collegiate athletics is certainly no exception. Kansas State football players say they will boycott all team activities until administrators create a policy that would allow a student to be expelled for “openly racist, threatening or disrespectful actions.”
Although the tweet in question has since been deleted by Twitter, as it goes against their community standards, the text of the tweet was made available by AP news:
Jaden McNeil tweeted, “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!”
The AP also reported that “McNeil describes himself as the founder of a conservative group called America First Students, which Kansas State says is not currently registered on the campus because of a lack of membership. America First Students had already drawn the ire of students for past statements made by McNeil.”
Several Wildcats players, including sophomore all-purpose receiver Joshua Youngblood, posted an image on Twitter with a statement announcing the boycott this past Saturday. Youngblood stated:
“To our family at Kansas State: Due to the recent disparaging, insensitive, and unsettling comments made by a fellow student, we as a football team, after consultation with students from campus organizations, as well as students from the general student body, feel it is best for us to stand with the students. We are demanding that Kansas State University put a policy in place that allows a student to be dismissed for displaying openly racist, threatening or disrespectful action toward a student or groups of students. We have resolved that we cannot play, practice, or meet until these demands are heard and actions taken. We love Kansas State but we must stand together and protect all students moving forward.”
Since Floyd’s death last month, international protests that call for justice, social equality, an an end to police brutality continue to rage. While some continue to be legitimate and constitutionally protected protests, many have become violent and have descended into anarchy.
University officials have said they are exploring their options for action after the tweet. They did release a statement regarding the boycott on Saturday evening that reads:
“K-State Athletics, along with President [Richard] Myers and University leadership, respect and support our student-athletes in standing up in the fight against racism. At K-State we are a family and we will work together to make our campus community an even better place to call home.”
Multiple Kansas State football players voiced their displeasure and threatened the boycott on Friday. Second-year coach Chris Kleiman commented on the issue on Friday.
“Our program and our coaches will continue to be part of the solution when it comes to racial and justice. I love our players, and they know I have their backs,”
Athletic director Gene Taylor also voiced his displeasure.
“Recent tweets from a K-State student downplaying the Black Lives Matter effort and the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd are disgusting and totally inappropriate and not reflective of who we are as a University or our Athletic Department,”
His statement continued, “They are not reflective of our administration and goals. We are committed to listening and supporting our black athletes, black students, and members of our black community and taking positive steps in the matters of social injustice and racism.”
The Kansas State University website proudly boasts the following in part:
“The university embraces diversity, encourages engagement and is committed to the discovery of knowledge, the education of undergraduate and graduate students, and improvement in the quality of life and standard of living of those we serve…the university is committed to provide all students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, understanding, and skills characteristic of an educated person.
To meet these intentions, the institution dedicates itself to providing academic and extracurricular learning experiences which promote and value both excellence and cultural diversity. K-State prepares its students to be informed, productive, and responsible citizens who actively participate in advancing cultural, educational, economic, scientific, and socio-political undertakings.”
Kansas State, like any institution of higher learning, should tread carefully. College campuses were created as opportunities to hear diverse opinions that challenge the intellectual curiosity of each learner it seeks to engage in.
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