Update 4:30 p.m.: FIU says in a statement it's aware of the chat and investigating it: "At FIU, we value diversity and work hard to make sure all of our students feel safe in an environment conducive to academic and career success. The sentiments expressed in the chat do not represent the university community. Our office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution will review the matter immediately and conduct any necessary investigations."
Thursday morning, dozens of Florida International University students walked out of class in protest. They urged the government to protect young immigrants who might be kicked out of the United States by the Trump administration. While they were demonstrating, their classmates in the FIU College Republicans were cracking jokes about trying to get the students deported. The exchange happened in a private group chat provided to New Times.
"Call ICE," one of the young Republicans urged. "So they get ICE'd."
"I was about to [call ICE]," another student wrote. "But I don't have their names."
The screenshots included also mention of buying semiautomatic weapons, grenades, and bump stocks and humorously refer to Charlottesville, where one protestor was killed by a white supremacist. The screencaps, which were shared by a participant in the chats who wishes to remain anonymous, are the latest headache for a campus already reeling from a leaked group chat from the campus' Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, which shows the frat members joking about rape and hazing. Those chats have led to the frat's suspension and an investigation.
"The discourse being exchanged in the FIU College is unacceptable," the anonymous tipster says in describing
the motivation for sharing screenshots of the chat. "The dehumanization of our fellow students is repulsive."
An FIU spokesperson declined to discuss the chats. One member of the College Republicans says the group's leaders have addressed the members who made the jokes and asked them to stop.
"It's not the central ones or the main ones in the club. It's more some of the fringe people who have more extreme views," says Connor Acosta, who says he was involved in the chats discussing weapons but not the offensive jokes about Charlottesville. "They discussed it recently at a meeting and they said to curb it. It's definitely being addressed in the club. It's gotten a bit better since then."
On their Facebook page, the FIU College Republicans boast of an award for the "best College Republicans Chapter Ever!" They are a chapter of the College Republican National Committee, founded in 1892, and have hosted numerous local candidates, including Jeb Bush and the recent failed state Senate candidate Jose Felix Diaz.
The screenshots of the chat — which is called "FIU CRs" and includes numerous cell-phone numbers — show a photo of students on campus holding signs in support of the DREAM Act while others discussed how they could try to deport the demonstrators.
The students who walked out of class were demanding new legislation to protect those seeking legal status in the United States after Donald Trump's executive order a few months ago began the process of ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The insensitive remarks in the group chat did not stop there. Chats from an earlier date involved a meme showing the car that mowed down protesters in Charlottesville in August. The caption read, "It's getting hard to see in this blizzard. Look at the size of these snowflakes."
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In separate texts, three different students discussed firearms. "I guess I should get a bump stock before it gets banned," an unidentified student said in reference to the gun attachment used by the shooter in Las Vegas who killed 59 and injured more than 500 in October. One student even brought up grenade launchers when discussing attachments for an AR-15.
Another chat shows a student dismissing the threat of white racist groups and suggesting that Black Lives Matter is somehow a greater threat: