At Texas Tech University, a group of fraternity brothers' violently racist, immigrant-hating group chat has been made public, sparking an investigation by the school. In the conversation, labeled "Frat Chat," they called for hunting "illegals" for sport, sending a firing squad to the border, and partnering with ICE for a "philanthropy" event.
They didn't stop at undocumented immigrants and also disparaged African-Americans, making racist remarks like "Picking cotton is a skill."
Screenshots of the chat were first posted anonymously by an account called @TechStudents1, which seemed to have been made expressly for this purpose and later deleted.
Nissa Garcia, a senior at Texas Tech, reposted the messages on her own account.
"These are students at my university, people I walk by every day on campus," she tweeted. "As a child of an immigrant, my disgust can’t be put into words. It’s WAY beyond political views at this point. The hatred generated based off one's nationality is unbelievable. This is NOT okay."
"It’s unbelievingly sickening," Garcia told Refinery29. "There are statements of murder and they have no sympathy." She said she believes the students should be expelled.
While the school has a diverse population, it also has a large and vocal contingent of Trump supporters — which makes it somewhat of a microcosm of America itself.
"When Trump won, you could hear around my apartment people yelling 'Build the wall,' and the day after I was on the bus with two frat guys yelling that Trump would save America and that the wall would be our savior," said Garcia. "The tension is always present, but they won’t say much until they’re behind a screen."
Behind the screen in the Frat Chat, Kyle Mitchell — "The Cocaine Cowboy" — kicked off the conversation by saying, "Let's argue about immigration." Until Thursday night, when the messages went public, The Cocaine Cowboy was the president of the university's Interfraternity Council (IFC).
His bros joined in. Alex Provost said: "Build a wall then drain the swamp." And then, "Don't bother reporting them just use a firing squad."
Mitchell said: "I'm telling you build a wall, and the U.S. government can sell permits for legal hunting on the border and we can make a sport of this, can be a new tax revenue stream for the government."
They continued saying horrible things for a while, including that death is the "only solution" for "illegals" and that undocumented immigrants are only qualified to be cooks, gardeners, and housekeepers. At one point, Alex Provost suggested, "Slaves," to which Mitchell responded, "Wrong race."
In a particularly chilling message, Alex Provost said: "I've met ranchers that kill illegals and [bury] them under cattle graves along the border."
The university issued a statement via email, which reads: "The messages shared on social media are abhorrent and strongly condemned. University officials are investigating this matter. Texas Tech University is proud of the inclusivity and rich cultures that make up our community. These insensitive and racially charged messages do not reflect the core values of the institution."
Chris Cook, managing director of the university's Office of Communications and Marketing, told Refinery29 that the IFC appointed a new president to replace Kyle Mitchell/The Cocaine Cowboy on Thursday night.
Ethan Louis Smith, the IFC's executive vice president, said in a statement: "The messages shared are not a reflection of the spirit and energy that surrounds so much of Greek life at Texas Tech. The Interfraternity Council is committed to making sure that a thorough investigation into these comments is conducted and those responsible are held accountable."
In an email to Refinery29, Alex Baker, the Chief Information Officer of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE), the fraternity of which these students are reportedly members, said: "Tau Kappa Epsilon is investigating these disgusting allegations and condemns hateful language. The alleged comments don’t align with our values of love, charity, and esteem and have no place in our organization."
During an emotionally charged time when debates about treatment of children at the U.S.-Mexico border are raging, these students are members of the large chorus of people who lack empathy for migrants coming to America in search of a better life. Whatever the reason, they can't imagine themselves in the shoes of someone who has no choice but to leave their country and take a chance in the U.S., just like many of their ancestors did years ago.
Unfortunately, the group chat is part of a larger trend of incidents that have ramped up since Trump's election because racists feel emboldened by his rhetoric. The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate groups, reported a 258% growth in white supremacist recruitment efforts at universities between fall 2016 (41 incidents) and fall 2017 (147 incidents). Anecdotally, we hear story after story after story — racist initiation videos, Snapchats, and Blackface parties. On some campuses, like at American University in Washington, D.C., new programs have sprung up like mandatory diversity training during freshman orientation.
The statements from The Cocaine Cowboy and his friends go beyond insensitivity and even beyond racism. They warrant more than a surface-level investigation and a punishment that goes beyond just a slap on the wrist.
This is a developing story. We will update it with more information once it's available.