A KAM’s employee was fired Tuesday after screenshots from a group chat were leaked online that showed the employee posting apparently racist comments toward the University’s Mexican community.
The screenshots were first posted on Twitter Monday night by Brianna Ghanbari, junior in AHS. Ghanbari had been a former employee of KAM’s, but was still part of the team’s group chat, titled “Kams 22s.” Several employees in the group made statements against the University’s Mexican students not affiliated with Greek social organizations.
“Mexican geeds have discovered block,” the first employee wrote.
“Geeds” is a term used to describe students who are not in Greek fraternities or sororities, according to the Urban Dictionary. The term, “Mexican Geeds” sparked a flood of opinions from Mexican students and unrest within Greek groups as well.
Following the first comment, another employee says “stock up on modellos,” referring to Modelos, a Mexican beer. The first employee then says “They’re too cheap/broke to pay $6 for a modelo.”
The employee goes on to say selling Modelos is a trigger to “get MORE rowdy” Mexicans in the campus bar.
“I was initially really angry when I saw the messages,” Ghanbari said. “It was just shocking to me that the derogatory remarks were mainly being said by a person who also comes from a Latin background. Not to mention, they are in a Latinx organization.”
She said she was disappointed at other employees who reinforced the messages.
Scott Cochrane, owner of KAM’s, said in a brief telephone interview Tuesday that the employee was fired. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chapter tried to follow up with Cochrane Wednesday. He declined to comment and said to “kiss his ass” instead.
The NAHJ-UIUC also tried to contact several KAM’s employees, the president of Omega Delta fraternity of which the ex-employee is a member and some vocal members of the Latina sorority Kappa Delta Chi. All declined to comment.
KAM’s released a statement Wednesday on their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts that said KAM’s was not aware of the group chat and condemned the comments made by the employee and fired him.
Ghanbari and several other people on social media said that all of the employees involved in making racial comments should be fired, not just the employee that triggered the conflict. The Instagram post immediately began to receive comments, prompting KAM’s to eliminate the comment section completely. Replies are still up on the Twitter post and comments are still up on the Facebook post.
But no matter what, Ghanbari said she hopes this is something everyone can learn from.
“I think this situation really brought students together,” Ghanbari said. “It’s not just people who are Latino, but it’s the Asian community, the black community, and ‘geeds’ coming together and showing their support as well. I think it’s really important for these students to feel like they belong here too, and that specific bars aren’t strictly for greeks, they’re for everybody.”
Zulema Herrera (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Acacia Hernandez (email@example.com) contributed to this report.