Racist Comments During Study Abroad Trip in Tanzania

On July 2, members of the Black Student Union met with Dean of Multicultural Affairs Jarvis Watson and will meet with Assistant Director of Community Standards Sandee Maung on July 11.

On June 30, Stony Brook University students came back to the United States after studying in Tanzania, where students witnessed students, Claire Olsen and Cassandra Baldino, make racist remarks throughout the study abroad trip.

Stony Brook University’s Black Student Union posted on Instagram on June 25 that two E-board members Roxi Stanford and Justin were one of many students who heard Olsen and Baldino call Tanzanian men “dark” and “dirty” during the month-long trip.

Olsen allegedly “referred to a Tanzanian man as ‘dark and dirty’ and said he looked “‘RAPEY’” several times during the trip, according to the Instagram post.

“Well, when I first heard the comments – I was bothered, but I did gently correct/call Claire out,” Stanford, the transfer representative of the Black Student Union, said.  “Not in a disrespectful way, but more like a ‘teaching moment.’ She seemed to understand, but copped out by saying ‘She didn’t mean to be prejudice BUT…..’ then made another prejudice statement.”

The Instagram post also said that Olsen allegedly “laughed and questioned” if a rural hospital was a hospital due to its “lack of resources.”

“Their comments carried hatred, white supremacy ideology, white saviorism, and a feeling of superiority over the Tanzanian people and all Africans by association,” the African Student Union E-board said in a statement. “Racism is hatred. Racism is discrimination. Racism will not be tolerated in our school nor will we tolerate it in our continent. The students’ ignorant thoughts and actions were a distasteful representation of Stony Brook University and has left many of us angry and confused. We are tired of people using Africa as a popularity stamp and in turn disrespecting Africans/Black people along with it.”

Baldino allegedly said a street vendor with rotting was “dark, dirty, and disgusting” before she shut a car window in his face.

Balding and Olsen continued to post pictures of Tanzanian children on their social media after they were told not to due to “exploitation and consent concerns” and said they planned on continuing once the trip ended.

“[Dr. Kamazima] addressed it about two and a half weeks later, he gave a very deep thought provoking 10 min lecture [about] prejudice and racism – but we still felt as though it wasn’t directly address,” Stanford, who reported the incident, said.

Dr. Kamazima was reached for a comment and directed Black World to the public relations team. 

“Stony Brook University is reviewing information related to an issue raised by a student in the International Academic Programs’ Study Abroad Program,” Lauren Sheprow, the University Media Relations Officer, said. “This issue has been referred to the Office of University Community Standards, which is following the appropriate processes and procedures.  Stony Brook University does not have a Pre-Nursing track in the School of Nursing and there were no students from the School of Nursing attending the study abroad program in Tanzania last month.”

Black World has reached out to Baldino, Olsen and other students that attended to comment on the matter.

Note: This article was paused due to the lack of sources and being told to wait until after the hearing from a source that was directly affected. Accounts like these are the reason why Black World is on campus. Black and Latino voices should be heard and we are the platform to help those voices be heard.

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