Hamilton

McMaster University lacrosse player off team after racist social media posts

A second year McMaster University student is no longer on the school lacrosse team after "racist and sexist" social media posts from May surfaced.

Steven Archachan said he was dealing with mental health issues when he posted the now-deleted comments

A McMaster student is under investigation by the school after posting racist comments on social media in May. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

McMaster University has booted a second-year student off its lacrosse team after racists social media posts from May surfaced on Wednesday. A tweet from the school indicates it may be investigating more than one student for "racist and sexist "posts.

Students alerted the school of posts from Steven Archachan, a McMaster student from British Columbia. The posts appear to target some acquaintances of his while also making derogatory comments about black people.

"I'm simply a racist," reads a now-deleted tweet from Archachan.

Another tweet read, "I don't trust my doctor because he's black. Nothing else."

The racist tweets from Archachan have been removed. (Twitter)

Arig al Shaibah, McMaster's associate vice-president of equity and inclusion, told CBC News while Archachan is no longer on the team, the investigation is ongoing.

The equity and inclusion office, the athletics and student affairs department and Glenn DeCaire, the school's director of security and parking services, are responsible for the investigation.

"We thank our community for alerting us to some very concerning and inappropriate comments posted to social media about anti-Black racism. We are sorry for the impact this has had on the community," al Shaibah said.

On Twitter, the school wrote it "does not condone any behaviour which undermines the human dignity of other campus community members, and their rights to live, learn and work in an environment that is free from harassment, discrimination and violence."

The McMaster Student Union (MSU) also tweeted it "is actively following up with appropriate campus leaders to ensure action is taken by the University."

It's unclear what the investigation process is and if the school will take any further action.

Student was on 'dark and racist' path

Archachan spoke to CBC News about his comments. He admitted they were unacceptable, but noted he was dealing with a "mental, psychotic break" at the time.

On his Instagram, he said he was hearing voices and "was going down a dark and racist path for a solid month."

"Those comments aren't me, I would never make comments like that if I was in a mental state where I was capable of making decisions for myself," he explained to CBC News.

"I apologize for my tweets, that is never acceptable and that is one of the worst things I could say."

Archachan later explained all the comments about him being a racist were joke. He noted he planned on becoming a comedian and making jokes about his ethnicity (Archachan is Indigenous).

Archachan also said while he does not believe he should be expelled from school, he will not return to McMaster University "out of respect for the athletic department, my teammates" and the school.

The revelation of the racist messages comes as Black Lives Matter movements call for institutions to act against anti-Black racism. The calls have been coming for years, but have become amplified after the killing of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis while in police custody.

Student concerns about investigation

Makena Lejeune, who initially alerted McMaster about the posts, told CBC News she is troubled to hear that Glenn DeCaire, a former Hamilton Police Service chief and McMaster's director of security and parking services, is involved in the investigation.

Black Lives Matters protestors in Hamilton have asked the school to terminate his employment, noting his past support of carding and street checks.

Lejeune, who is not a McMaster student, has doubts DeCaire will take the concerns seriously.

"I am very concerned in Mr Decaire's ability to handle this situation properly. Having students such as Steven being able to walk freely on campus is dangerous," she wrote to the school in an email obtained by CBC News. 

"It makes minority students feel unsafe and I've heard minority students express their same concerns about Mr. Decaire."

Arig al Shaibah, from the equity and inclusion office (EIO), tried to dispel those doubts.

"The EIO's practices are guided by fundamental anti-oppressive, intersectional, culturally relevant and trauma-informed principles and practices," al Shaibah wrote to CBC News.

"The office works with a range of other departments of the university who also receive training in these principles and practices. While cases are in process, we take all steps available to protect the safety and well-being of our community members."

About the Author

Bobby Hristova

Reporter/Editor

Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca

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