A Kentucky college student claims that she is being targeted with harassment and threats of deportation by a fellow classmate. What’s more, she says, the school itself has done nothing to help with the wave of hate she’s faced in recent weeks.
In an emotional video posted to YouTube this week, 21-year-old Paola Garcia, a student at Transylvania University and a DACA recipient, described the fear and uncertainty she’s felt since Donald Trump’s decision to end the program, which protects her from deportation. To make matters worse, her classmate, Taylor Ragg, posted her picture on Facebook, urging his friends to “go report this illegal at my school bragging about breaking the law.”
According to Garcia, she entered the United States with her parents when she was two years old.
In the video, Garcia said that she was immediately inundated with racist messages after Ragg allegedly posted his message in a closed Facebook group titled “the 10th Crusade Enthusiasts” in late August.
“Hope you enjoyed your visit,” one harasser allegedly told Garcia. “Back to them dirt floors of your homeland, stinky ass.”
The public portion of the 10th Crusade Enthusiasts page contains a number of fascist and anti-Semitic references.
Following the wave of hate directed at her by Ragg’s post, Garcia said she contacted university officials for help, but “was told by them that his actions did not violate school policies because he only made a recommendation to his readers about how to respond to my undocumented status.”
In a statement to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Transylvania University spokesperson Michele Gaither Sparks insisted that, although she could not comment on specific students:
Transylvania University does not condone or tolerate hatred, bigotry, bullying or harassment in any form and will address any such behavior in a manner consistent with our policies, procedures, and values as a university. We value every member of this community on the basis of their humanity, not on the basis of their ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or legal status
Garcia, however, insists the school has not gone far enough in protecting her, and punishing Ragg for his alleged campaign of harassment.
“He’s still here,” she said of Ragg, “and I have to see his face every day. It’s such a small campus.”
According to the Herald-Leader, University President Seamus Carey did invite both Garcia and Ragg to meet in his office to discuss the incident. Ragg reportedly declined and, when reached for comment by the paper, responded simply, “Lexington Herald-Leader is Fake News.”
While Ragg’s Facebook profile has since been either removed, or set to “private,” it reportedly featured photographs of him posing in a “Make America Great Again” hat, and listed him as having interned in the U.S. Senate. He also claimed to have been a campus coordinator for Senator Rand Paul.
Speaking with the Herald-Leader, Garcia said that since posting her video, she’s received an outpouring of support.
“So many people have offered me their homes as a safe place, and people have offered to walk me places,” she said. “I feel relatively safe right now.”
However, she dreads the prospect of seeing Radd this coming spring, when the two are set to graduate together.
Update, 5:25 PM: In an email to Splinter, school spokesperson Michele Gaither Sparks said that Taylor Ragg is no longer a student Transylvania University.
Mr. Ragg is no longer enrolled at the University. Per University policy and federal law, I cannot comment further on the issue.