Several students have been suspended from EPHEC school in Louvain-La-Neuve, Wallonia on 17 May following a string of racist messages posted on a group chat, according to broadcaster RTBF.
The private conversations, which were shared widely across the internet, revealed that certain students had described students of African and Arabic origin as “monkeys”, “macaques”, and other racist and degrading terms.
On May 12, students of a marketing course at the Louvain-La-Neuve EPHEC campus worked alongside students from the Woluwe-Saint-Lambert section as part of a one-off project. No issues were reported during the interactions between the two groups.
Shortly after the interaction, however, students from the Louvain-La-Neuve group began to denigrate the Woluwe students on private group chats. Students evoked images of a “safari” and a “zoo”, describing certain Woulwe students as animals, as well as other racist tropes.
A few days later, the high school was made aware of the remarks made by three students and engaged with by around a dozen students.
EPHEC has been quick to respond to the incident, suspending the authors of the messages and those who “liked” and interacted with the messages.
“These words go completely against our values. These racist phrases are inadmissible, intolerable, and unaccepted,” the school said in a statement on Twitter. The students in question will soon undergo a disciplinary process led by the school to decide their fate with the school.
Translation: Hello (redacted), the management of EPHEC has taken this very seriously and condemns these intolerable remarks, in total contradiction with its values. The authors (and those who liked the exchanges) were immediately suspended as a precaution
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While the school has been quick to condemn the incident, it also highlights that the incident was perpetrated by only ten students out of a school of 6,000. An email has been sent by the school administration to students to remind them of the school’s values and new anti-racist educational classes that will be enacted at the start of the next school year.
On social media, the response of locals has been severe, even provoking threats of violence from some students. EPHEC has called for calm and is addressing the complaints with angry parents and students.