Georgia State University Student Accused of Using Racial Slur

A racial slur, a freshman soccer player, and an outraged student body. This is the current climate at Georgia State University. On January 19, 2018, a controversial social media post by a student, Natalia Martinez, surfaced on the internet. There was a picture of her laughing, and the caption read, “I passed n***ersss!” The caption was posted on Finsta, an app where  posts are only meant to be viewed by the user's friends.


This situation comes only the week following a situation at the University of Alabama where a student went on a racist rant about MLK day. Georgia State University has removed the student from the university’s athletic roster, and they also issued a statement suspending her from school. Martinez has also released a statement apologizing for the use of the word. However, many students do not feel that these actions are enough and suggest that she be expelled from the university. A petition with over 500 signatures is circulating around the school, demanding her expulsion. Other students are choosing to take a more hands-on reaction and organize a protest.


In an interview Asha Williams, one of the organizers of a student body rally for the incident, she gave her insight and opinion of the situation.


HC: Can you state your name, your classification, and the school organization you are most affiliated with?  

AW: My name is Asha Williams. I am a senior and an English major. I am a member of the Zeta Phi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Softer Touch.


HC: How did you first discover Natalia Martinez’s Finsta post?

AW: I either saw it on my Snapchat or my Insta-story


HC: Being that Georgia State is known for its diverse student population, what was your initial reaction to the post?

AW: That it was unacceptable, especially being that she was on the school soccer team. She is representing the school, so for her to post something like this was not okay.


HC: And as a woman of color, how did it make you feel to see this racial slur from another woman of color?

AW: It seemed very ignorant, especially given the time we’re in. There are so many people who don’t see the need for change. They say and do unacceptable things, and it makes other people feel entitled to do the same. It creates a snowball effect, and that is what I really want to get rid of at GSU.


HC: What steps did you take after seeing the post?

AW:  I reposted it on my Insta-story and I tagged Georgia State.


HC: As you know, the school has already suspended Martinez. But many students feel that she deserves expulsion. How do you feel about it?

AW: I feel that everyone in the black community at Georgia State that feels offended needs to come together and decide how to handle the situation. It is a community effort, and we should have a say about how the situation is handled.


HC: But she has issued an apology, do you feel that her apology is not enough?

AW:  No, because are you saying sorry because you mean it, or because you got caught?  


HC: Do you feel that there was any way she could have improved her apology so that it would have been more acceptable for the student body?

AW: No, because it’s not a “me” thing. It’s a community decision. So while one person may not feel as offended, someone may come and give me a reason why they were extremely offended and think she needs to be expelled. That’s why it is not up to one person. This situation impacts all of us.


HC: Some people may argue that Martinez is only in her first year of college, she made a mistake, and she deserves a second chance. How would you respond to that statement?  

AW: I feel that black people aren’t always given a second chance. As far a second chance, I feel it, but do we give black boys and girls this second chance? Or are we sweeping it under the rug because the color of her skin? I have friends of other races, and I would like to think that they would never do something like this, so they wouldn’t need a second chance.


HC: The goal of the rally is to get the administration’s attention so that they will take necessary action towards the student, correct? What if their response isn’t sufficient? What would be the next step you would like to take?

 AW: Well, we would plan to have an even bigger discussion about the situation.


    Some students do not support the idea of her being expelled. It was called “Draconian” and “unnecessary” by some. Cofi Tiggs, a senior at Georgia State University and a member of Panther Hackers, said that when he first saw the post, he “felt no reaction.” Tiggs says he “ tries to remain socially independent of what has been taught to him. Like it or not, things like this happen. But not all people are bad people.”


Tiggs also states that, “There’s a difference between people teaching and just punishing. My question would be, what would you want this expulsion to solve? This is not going to cause a stand. In a few weeks, someone is going to drop a flyer in the group chat, and nothing will change. But you’ve ruined her future, instead of teaching her. What if this happened to someone you know?”


   " Due to the backlash Martinez had received, she has decided to withdraw from Georgia State University. However, this does not assuage the matter for all GSU students. This has left many students wondering if the issue of race is a topic that the university administration should address. Georgia State University has issued one one more statement on the matter.


"Because of the brevity of university statements on social media, Georgia State is clarifying some of the facts around the recent case involving a women’s soccer player.

  • The student was suspended from practicing with the soccer team over the weekend to determine if her conduct violated the student-athlete code of conduct.
  • She was not suspended from the university. The dean of students was aware of the incident and planned to reach out to initiate a conversation. She was not in violation of the university’s student code of conduct.
  • The student voluntarily withdrew from the university Monday.
  • The university is reviewing its student-athlete code of conduct to ensure it is in compliance with university policy and the law."