A Trump-supporting student targeted an undocumented classmate at his university by starting an online harassment campaign calling for her deportation — and university officials have taken no action.
Paola Garcia, a senior at Transylvania University, came to the United States when she was 2 years old and grew up in West Virginia. Last week, President Donald Trump called for an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed Garcia the right to remain in the U.S. legally.
Without this protection, Garcia has become victim to an online campaign that aims to see her deported, which she blames on fellow student Taylor Ragg. In an emotional video posted to YouTube, Garcia said Ragg posted a picture of her Facebook profile, saying “Everyone go report this illegal at my school bragging about breaking the law.”
“Racists are emboldened today, and he’s inciting them to harass me and report me,” Garcia said in the video while she read some of the comments posted on her Facebook page.
“Hope you enjoyed your visit. Back to them dirt floors of your homeland, stinky ass,” posted one commenter, while another posted a video of someone filling in a tip form for immigration authorities.
While Garcia originally sought help from the university, she claims university officials told her Ragg’s activities don’t violate Transylvania non-discrimination policies.
This incident comes from the same university in which a former student brought weapons into a café on campus in April and threatened anyone who claimed they weren’t a Republican, leaving one student hospitalized.
A university spokeswoman said Transylvania “does not condone or tolerate hatred, bigotry, bullying or harassment in any form,” and the president of the university, Seamus Carey, sent out an email earlier this month supporting DACA students. Those are just words though.
When faced with this incident, Carey apparently told Garcia that Ragg merely made a recommendation to his readers about how to respond to her profile, which does not violate university policy. Then, when Carey asked to meet with both students, Ragg refused to show up.
Ragg deleted his Facebook page, but he apparently communicated with conservative website The Narrative Times about the incident, sharing emails from the university. These emails were included in a story published on the website with the headline, “ILLEGAL ALIEN Boast’s [sic] About Being Here ILLEGAL and Suddenly Get’s A REALITY CHECK!”
The story includes a screenshot of Ragg’s post and calls him a “strong conservative leader.” The website then calls Garcia a “little baby” for posting her tearful video in response to the hate she’s received, and tells her not to cry when “we launch you over the wall.”
Garcia has been the victim of widespread hate and has been subjected to fear brought on by a student on her campus, while Carey claims that the nation’s laws “protect the freedom to express one’s viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are different from our own. Thus, there are times when our laws seem like an obstacle rather than a support.”
This isn’t a matter of freedom of expression, but an incitement of prejudice and hate against an innocent student.
“I am infuriated to see my alma mater failing to protect its students and blatantly disregarding their non-discrimination policy,” said university Alumna Holly Brown. “Their policy, which is posted online, mentions national origin as a protected class. I can’t understand why the university would fail to act in this instance of a student harassing a peer due to her national origin.”
The university’s inability to support Garcia shows a blatant disregard for the safety of undocumented students on campus. Meanwhile, Ragg has received no discipline or action of any sort.
“He’s still here,” Garcia said of Ragg, “and I have to see his face every day. It’s such a small campus.”
Despite the overwhelming hatred targeting her online, Garcia said she feels a little safer now after seeing a flood of support from social media.
#Transylvania University needs to figure out how to make ALL its students feel safe. Shameful.— Fit of Pique (@Nomdetuite) September 13, 2017
The logical conclusion is that Kentucky's Transylvania University supports racist cyber bullying and racist violence. https://t.co/HJ7DpgNU9M— Luis Camacho (@animemoto) September 13, 2017
Prior to deleting his Facebook account, Ragg had photos with a “Make America Great Again Hat.” Garcia said she hopes to see him expelled for his heinous actions. Given this was a direct incitement of hate, it must be treated that way.
BANNER/THUMBNAIL CREDIT: Reuters/Stephen Yang