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University Finds Harassment Campaign Against DACA Student to Be ‘Free Speech’

Paola Garcia via YouTube screenshot
Paola Garcia via YouTube screenshot

Updated Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, 5:06 p.m. EDT: The student who launched an online campaign urging people to report DACA student Paola Garcia is no longer enrolled at Transylvania University.


According to BuzzFeed, university officials said Wednesday in an email that Taylor Ragg was no longer enrolled, and declined to give additional information.


Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., has opted to protect a student who has launched a hate campaign against one of his classmates, calling the young man’s actions “free speech.”


Paola Garcia, a senior at the university, says that she has been the target of harassment and threats of deportation since classmate Taylor Ragg shared a photo of her on Facebook urging his followers to “go report this illegal at my school bragging about breaking the law.”

Garcia, who is living legally in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, recounted her experiences via YouTube this week. In the video, she describes the fear and racism she has endured since President Donald Trump announced that he would be rescinding the Obama-era DACA protections. She also shared some of the vitriol she’s endured as a result of Ragg’s campaign.

Commenters told her that she and her “n-word” boyfriend “need to leave.”

“Hope you enjoyed your visit. Back to them dirt floors of your homeland, stinky ass,” another commenter posted. Yet another person sent Garcia a photo of himself filling out a tip form for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But, according to the Lexington Herald Leader, Transylvania University didn’t find Ragg’s incitement to be in violation of its nondiscrimination policy.

Garcia told the paper that Ragg made the post to Facebook in late August and that she asked her school to intervene last Friday:

In a phone interview, Garcia said President Seamus Carey told her that Ragg merely made a recommendation to his readers about how to respond to her profile, which does not violate Transy rules. Carey asked to meet with both students, which Garcia did, but Ragg declined.

When contacted through Facebook for a comment, Ragg responded: “Lexington Herald Leader is Fake News.”


Ragg, however, apparently had no qualms about giving an interview to the apostrophe-loving Narrative Times, which ran a piece titled, “ILLEGAL ALIEN Boast’s About Being Here ILLEGAL and Suddenly Get’s A REALITY CHECK!” (sic)

It’s unclear how Ragg’s actions do not fall under the university’s nondiscrimination policy, which is listed under a “diversity” page on the school’s website. Under the banner “An Inclusive Campus,” the school includes the following passage outlining the policy: “The University does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of employees, students or other individuals associated with the University. ”


On Monday, President Carey sent an email to the Transy campus restating the school’s commitment to DACA and its condemnation of bigotry and intolerance.

But it also included the following caveat, according to the Herald Leader:

“It is essential to remember, however, that the way we pursue justice is as important as the outcome we seek,” Carey said. “If justice is to be lasting, the means by which it is achieved is as important as the achievement itself. As a country and as an institution, we are governed by laws. These laws protect the freedom to express one’s viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are different from our own. Thus, there are times when our laws seem like an obstacle rather than a support. If we want justice to endure, however, we cannot succumb to frustrations that would have us break the law or violate policies.”


Thus, the school managed to portray one student’s campaign to deport another student as simply a differing “viewpoint.” In the struggle to articulate what the institution’s values are—that they both condemn bigotry while allowing their students to practice it without repercussion—Transylvania University managed to say little of value at all.

Read more at the Lexington Herald Leader.

Staff writer, The Root.

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Taylor Ragg, definitely making America great.