COLUMBIA — What is the proper punishment for the students who apologized for the cotton ball incident?
Two MU students, freshman Sean Fitzgerald, 19, and senior Zachary Tucker, 21, were arrested and temporarily suspended Wednesday on suspicion of tampering in the second degree after cotton balls were scattered Feb. 26 in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.
The students issued an apology for the incident through their attorneys Friday morning and detailed “a series of foolish acts” committed throughout the night. These other acts included “riding” the tiger at the South Quad, climbing on the statue at Faurot Field and hoisting a pirate flag at the ROTC building.
Tucker personally apologized to the center’s director, Nathan Stephens. Stephens said he expressed no ill will toward him and accepted Tucker’s apology on behalf of the center.
Kristen Andrews and Lisa White, leaders in the Legion of Black Collegians, indicated they would be willing to forgive Fitzgerald and Tucker for their actions.
Andrews said it is in her nature to forgive and White said she would like to forgive them because of her religious beliefs.
Tucker’s attorney, Christopher Slusher, said he doesn’t believe the incident could be considered a hate crime. However, Eric Miller, associate professor of law at St. Louis University, said the hate crime charge could stick if prosecutors can prove the cotton balls were a reference to race.
The students will learn their academic fates after the student conduct review process.
What do you think should be an appropriate punishments for the duo involved in the cotton ball incident?