Isaiah Lee started receiving death threats after posting a video on Facebook before Thanksgiving break; it involved his comments about a previous opinion piece in The Chronicle called Stop Demanding Safe Spaces.
“My video was to shed some light on the inaccuracies in that article and to express the hurt that I felt when reading that article and how that article minimizes the experiences of minority people,” Lee said.
The threats transpired mostly through text messages and a phone app called Yik Yak, where people are able to share anonymous posts to their nearby community.
“Students were saying that they wanted to curb stomp me and another student, Lexi Gruber, who was very active on campus last year regarding issues of cultural appropriation,” Lee said.
Lee said the reaction he felt from the first death threat he received was fear, shock and confusion.
“I felt somewhat defeated because I questioned what was I saying and doing to spark that kind of anger and hatred? What was I doing that could cause someone to want to threaten my life?” Lee said.
He reported this first threat to Public Safety, but was given no assurance that they would protect him from further threats.
“They said that there was nothing that they can do about the issue, but it seems as though this has been a continual thing,” Lee said. “If my life really was put at stake and somebody decided to act on the threats that they put on Yik Yak, what proactivity was taken? What message has administration put out to ensure that they will protect us that they will ensure our safety?”
Chief of Public Safety Edgar Rodriguez gave a statement saying student safety is of the utmost importance at Quinnipiac.
“Maintaining the safety of our students is our most-important responsibility. The Public Safety Department investigates any time a student reports that he or she has been threatened, and any student found responsible for threatening another member of the university community could face criminal charges that lead to their dismissal from the university,” the statement said.
Lee also said that some people need to learn to understand the feelings of those who are oppressed.
“We often get more caught up in how guilty or threatened people feel by social equity and I think we need to be more concerned on those about how who are not privileged to that kind of equity are affected by that and how environments that seem to have imbedded racism, bigotry, sexism, homophobia can emotionally and psychologically affect the lives of these students,” he said.
Despite his initial fear over the threats, Lee says he will not stop speaking out for social justice.
“I’m willing to continue to speak up because I feel students have a right to feel safe on this campus and I’m going to continue to fight for that,” Lee said.
He said it is a good idea to address this issue to the student body.
“I think a message from Mark Thompson or John Lahey would be good for students; elaborating on how students can be more constructive in dealing with these issues and discussing these topics that this is a campus where people should feel safe to express their perspectives,” he said.