College student expelled, suspended after racist Instagram posts
Freshman Harley Barber was expelled from the University of Alabama (UA) after she posted two self-recorded videos including racial slurs to Instagram on January 15, 2018, which was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A week later, a Georgia State University student-athlete was suspended from the soccer team for using the same racial slur on Instagram, and chose to withdraw from her school.
Harley Barber is a former UA student and Alpha Phi sorority member. She was just beginning her second semester of freshman year at UA when she posted the racist videos. After the expulsion, Barber returned to her hometown of Marlton, New Jersey.
Linda Kahangi, executive director of Alpha Phi International Fraternity (the sorority to which Barber belonged), released a statement that called the content of the videos hateful and offensive. She also confirmed that Barber was no longer a member of Alpha Phi.
In the first video, Barber turns off a sink faucet, and says “we do not waste water because of the people in Syria. . . . I love how I act like I love black people, because I fucking hate n——-rs.” She repeats the n-word multiple times, using it to describe the people for whom she is supposedly saving water. In the second video, Barber says that she can say the n-word as much as she wants because she’s from New Jersey and because she’s “in the South now.” Another woman can be heard in the background suggesting that Barber not post the video to social media.
Barber posted the videos on her second, private account, known as a “Finsta,” short for “fake Instagram.” They were made public by a now-suspended Twitter account, and were then circulated on the social media platform, with one video quickly accumulating more than 5,000 views. Drawing even more attention to the videos, UA running back Damien Harris also tweeted about it, citing them as evidence that “racism isn’t dead.”
UA officials investigated and quickly moved to expel Barber from the university. She was also removed from the UA chapter of the Alpha Phi sorority. Stuart Bell, president of UA, released a statement following the incident, condemning Barber’s behavior and expressing his “personal disgust and disappointment” at the “racist and disturbing videos” she posted. It read, in part:
“Like many of you, I find the videos highly offensive and deeply hurtful, not only to our students and our entire University community, but to everyone who viewed them. The actions of this student do not represent the larger student body or the values of our University, and she is no longer enrolled here. We hold our students to much higher standards, and we apologize to everyone who has seen the videos and been hurt by this hateful, ignorant and offensive behavior. This is not who we are; it is unacceptable and unwelcome here at UA.”
A week after Barber was expelled from UA, a Georgia State University freshman, Natalia Martinez, was suspended from the soccer team, and ultimately chose to withdraw from the university, after she used a variation of the n-word on her Finsta account.
Student expelled from university and sorority
Barber was expelled from UA and her sorority within days of the videos going public. She told the New York Post that she “did something bad,” and that there is “no excuse” for her behavior. She has returned to New Jersey.
Prepared by Emma Vahey ‘20
Uploaded March 5, 2018