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After Being Denied A Snow Day, University Of Illinois Students Respond With Racism And Sexism

When University Chancellor Phyllis Wise emailed the student body saying school would be in session on Monday, she became the target of racist and misogynistic personal attacks from her student body.

On Sunday evening, everyone at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign received this email saying that classes would be in session on Monday, Jan. 27:

The email was sent by the university chancellor, Phyllis Wise.

Given the weather forecast for Monday, the student body was not thrilled about being denied a day off...

And several responded by tweeting under the hashtag #FuckPhyllis.

Yo Phyllis, if people die, that's on you #fuckphyllis

Are you kidding me? Wow we still have classes tomorrow #FuckPhyllis

It's gonna be a nightmare tomorrow... #fuckphyllis

While the tweets were mean-spirited to begin with, they escalated into aggression very quickly.

It's going to be -27 without wind chill tomorrow morning and I have class at 8 #FuckPhyllis #Cunt #Bitch #Whore

phyllis can go shove tomorrow's weather up her wideset vagina. #fuckphyllis

In a room with Phyllis Wise, Adolf Hitler, and a gun with one bullet. Who do I shoot? #fuckphyllis

And shortly after that, for some, the attacks took a racist turn.

Communist China no stop by cold #FuckPhyllis

Phyllis Wise is the Kim Jong Un of chancellors #fuckphyllis

Asians and women aren't responsible for their actions #FuckPhyllis

The attacks continued via a parody account created for Chancellor Wise, which racked up over 1,000 followers in a few minutes.

Some students even created a Change.com petition asking that classes be canceled. By 2 a.m. Monday morning, it had amassed over 7,000 signatures.

Although the insults continued late into the night, there was considerable backlash from Twitter users who had noticed the hashtag and found it to be problematic.

Forever one of the embarrassed alumni because of trends like #FuckPhyllis existing when the campus was silent in the face of oppression.

Because even your fury at not having school cancelled does NOT mean you can hurl personal attacks at one person #FuckPhyllis

Racist, mysoginost students tweet #FuckPhyllis but need to miss some more classes and get an education.

I agree it sucks going to class when it's freezing. Be an adult. Stay home if it's safer, but don't make racial slurs #fuckphyllis

I'm sure all of you will look back at this in 10 years and be ashamed of yourselves for verbally abusing an individual online #FuckPhyllis

I'm totally on board with cussing out admins, but some U of I folks in the #FuckPhyllis tag are being racist, sexist jerks. Not cool.

Oh I see, so class not being cancelled is an excuse to be racist! Gotcha. (Grow up, UIUC. Just don’t go, sheesh.) #fuckphyllis

For nay-sayers out there who think racism is a thing of the past and twitter is 'progressive', pay attention. This is real. #FuckPhyllis

Hey, if you stay home, UofI students - and that's okay- maybe educate yourself on this: Ethnic/Racial Slurs Are Never OK #fuckphyllis

UIUC alumna Suey Park, who has played an active role in past hashtag movements, told BuzzFeed via email:

"I'd expect this from the student body. As you might have seen in the hashtag convo, many stated that they were also Chief fans. The Chief is a racist mascot that was officially banned from the university, yet continues to exist as an unofficial mascot. If you step foot on campus, you will see heavy Chief support still.

There was a hate crime my senior year in which a Sikh law professor was stabbed in the throat on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. The white attacker screamed "this is my country" and stabbed the professor. It showed me that being different can lead to violence, despite what kind of status a person has achieved. It drove me crazy how it seemed such a few of us were affected by the news of the hate crime. It drove me absolutely crazy. And to see those same students tweeting and using Facebook to promote racism during such a sensitive time for me was scarring. Seeing hate (including again tonight) online made my physical spaces feel less safe.

We can't continue turning away from holding students accountable for their behavior in digital spaces. "Safe spaces" are a university aspiration, but may disassociate online behavior from student life, which is concerning in an increasingly digital age... The campus needs to take bias-motivated incidents on the internet more seriously."

Alumna Mikki Kendall, who graduated from UIUC in 2005, added:

"I wouldn't say U of I was racially aware or really sensitive. They had just begun to admit they had a retention problem with people of color, and much of Champaign-Urbana was (and still is I suspect) semi segregated. It wasn't overt, but things like grammar school district lines, location of low income housing, and bus routes made it noticeable to me... There were a lot of micro aggressions on that campus and in that town when I was there. Chancellor Wise is after my time, but I have heard generally good things about her."

At the time of writing, the university has not issued any further statements. Classes are still in session.