Former Ball State SGA president says threats have subsided

The Daily News

Malachi Randolph has been back on campus for three weeks since he resigned as Student Government Association president, and he said the threats seemed to have subsided.

“I haven’t had anything for a while,” Randolph said. “But then again, I had to block a lot of people [on social media], too.”

Randolph began receiving hateful remarks after he posted racially insensitive tweets regarding Asian people on Sept. 4. He resigned from his position in SGA a day later.

Since his resignation, he said people have been contacting him online, calling him “an embarrassment to the university,” saying he never should have been born and posting various other insults.

“Obviously [my tweets] were offensive, obviously it was a mistake,” Randolph said. “I don’t think it warranted some of the hate that I got. It warranted an uproar, it warranted people being angry, but I don’t think it warranted stuff like death threats and people telling me that I never should have come to Ball State.”

He said on campus no one has approached him with the same hostility he received online.

“I did feel like people were looking at me, trying to figure out if I was that kid, you know, who caused all the raucous,” he said. “I kind of just had to lay low, and you know, just walk to my classes. People kind of had a little hush or something if I walked in.”

Randolph said he sent the tweets when working for the Chinese TV show “Fashion Diary,” under the Chinese stylist Clement Buyi Z.

He was responsible for a lot of English communication, including drafting emails and writing subtitles for the show. Most of the people he worked with did not speak English as a first language, he said.

He said the language barrier generated a lot of frustration, leading Randolph to send his tweets:

• “I hate when people make me write emails in Asian speak. They think they know English better than me. #childish.”

• “Stereotypical Chinese <<<<” (Note: Left-pointing carrots connote negative feelings on Twitter.)

• “It’s so hard not to let national pride turn into arrogance when arguing with a Chinese person. #Americaisbest.”

He removed them later, but by that time, people had already seen them. He said in the aftermath he was struggling to juggle his work in New York with his responsibilities as SGA president.

“They were yelling at me because I wasn’t doing my job, and I was in the bathroom crying,” he said.

Randolph has said he regrets the tweets.

He calls the moments in which he sent them times of weakness.

“Everyone vents, everyone says stupid stuff,” he said. “They usually just say it in phone calls to friends. Well, I said it on social media to, you know, 1,000 followers.”

“It was poor word choice,” he said. “I could have said I wanted to kill my boss and no one would have cared, but because I used the word ‘Asian,’ it was poor word choice.”

Randolph, who has been to China and studies international business, said he is not racist.

“I think that that’s kind of frustrating that people are thinking that the solution is that Malachi needs to be more informed or more cultured,” he said. “The fact is that Malachi needs to stop being an idiot. This isn’t the first time I’ve been stupid on social media.”

Randolph’s hometown of Goshen, Ind., has a population of about 32,000 people, approximately 78 percent of whom are white, according to the Census Bureau.

“Even though I grew up in a predominately white, Midwestern, small town I was never confined to that,” he said. “I was exposed to other people, whether it’s through mission trips or going to the nursing home.”

Growing up in the small community made it all the more challenging when his local newspaper ran a story about his tweets and resignation on its front page, he said. His parents had to answer questions from neighbors and community members who have known his family for the 22 years he’s lived in Goshen, he said.

Chloe Anagnos, his friend and successor as SGA president, said she was surprised by how the story spread.

“Did I think it should have been picked up [in so many news outlets]? No,” she said in September. “I thought that was a little ridiculous. If you want to turn this into a teaching moment, that’s OK. This whole situation is a teaching moment for everyone.”

The situation with the former president has sparked discussion on campus regarding race and diversity.

In the weeks following Randolph’s resignation, the Social Justice League and the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies hosted a panel discussion about race, prejudice and privilege. The university’s Diversity Team drafted an open letter to Randolph and the Ball State community encouraging people to attend counseling.

Randolph is glad people are discussing these issues, he said.

“I do hope that people will have positive conversations about it and learn lessons,” he said. “Because I know I’ve learned a lot, and it would be nice if other people could learn from my mistakes.”


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