Responding to incoming racism

Quinnipiac community wants action

Kalleen Rose Ozanic, Associate News Editor

Recently, two incoming Quinnipiac students of the class of 2024 have engaged in racist actions on social media that do not support the inclusivity that the university strives to maintain.

On June 5, The Quinnipiac Chronicle was made aware that Bridget Bognanno posted on her Facebook account making derogatory remarks against China and the Chinese nationality. Within her post, she defended the pejorative term, “Chinese Virus.”

As of publication, Bognanno did not respond to a Facebook message asking for a comment.

Bognanno shared racist sentiments in a Facebook post.

In addition to Bognanno’s post, another student of the incoming class of 2024, Maegan Quinlan, wore blackface, as seen in a Snapchat story.

In the image, Quinlan was allegedly impersonating Sabrina Victor, the Miss Massachusetts 2020 pageant winner.

In Quinnipiac University’s strategic plan, the“University of the Future,” spearheaded by President Judy Olian, a main goal is creating an inclusive and excellence-driven community. 

In response to these instances, Olian and the executive board of Quinnipiac sent out a blanket email to the student body affirming the university’s stance on racism.

While the email condemned the behavior of the two incoming students and encouraged being “fully accountable for true equity and inclusivity,” it did not address the enrollment status of the two incoming students or any disciplinary action being pursued against them.

Bognanno and Quinlan’s actions, as well as the response of Quinnipiac administration, has sparked discussion within the university community.

Sokaina Asar started a petition with a goal for Quinnipiac administration to “show support to their claim for ‘Diversity and Inclusion.’” Asar transferred from Quinnipiac to the University of Connecticut, where she graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.  .

Asar said she wanted to see more discrete action from Quinnipiac that addresses the racism being shown from members of the incoming class of 2024. 

“(Quinnipiac) didn’t have any action behind the words,” Asar said.

Asar hopes that her petition can inspire others to take action within the Quinnipiac community.

“I’m hoping that this is a first step,” being someone who transferred and graduated,” Asar said. “Being someone who transferred and graduated, there’s really not much I can do directly. Like it’s really up to the students to take initiative on that.”

Samantha Simon, another member of the Quinnipiac community, has also addressed the incoming students’ racist actions and Quinnipiac administration’s response to the situation.

Simon, a journalism major in the class of 2022, said she began an email thread to respond to the incidents and the administration.

“I hope the university sees that and realizes that we’re not going to stand for this,” Simon said. “And if it does, hopefully, it never happens again, but if something does happen again, it’s not going to be silent and it’s not going to be something that’s going to slide.”

Simon also felt that Bognanno and Quinlan’s actions were reprehensible.

“As human beings, you would think they would know that that’s just not right,” Simon said. “It is blatantly racist.”

On June 10, Quinlan released a statement to the university student media group Q30 regarding her engagement in blackface, claiming she was unaware of the inherent racism of her actions at the time. She also said she had no intent to cause harm but rather was “fooling around with makeup.”

Marcos Scauso, assistant professor of political science,  believes that education is important to combat racism, but that ignorance is  not an excuse for racism.

“We have the responsibility to learn about these things and we have the responsibility to not reinforce those injustices,” Scauso said. “We have, throughout history, learned some lessons about … the way that these things affect people. So not knowing, to me, is not a sufficient excuse.”

Scauso also addressed his opinions about Bognanno’s racist remarks about the COVID-19 virus..

“When we say things, when we make statements, we promote meanings,” Scauso said. “And those meanings are not just harmless opinions inside of our heads, not affecting anyone. When we say things, we construct people in certain ways, and when we do that, we often reinforce mechanisms of oppression and inequality that came way before we did; some of which are hundreds of years old.”