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Students & Staff Stopped For 'Driving While Black,' Pepperdine President Says

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Pepperdine University President Andrew K. Benton said that several professors and students of color have been pulled over for simply "driving while black."

Benton made this assertion on Monday night at a meeting to discuss racist messages that had been posted via the social media app Yik Yak, according to KBUU-FM (via City News Service). The meeting was held in the school's auditorium.

The president said he had spoken with several black students and staff, who told him they had been pulled over for no real reason.

"In one conversation … and I had heard the phrase driving while black ... I was stunned and surprised to learn that several members of our campus community—faculty and students—have been pulled over for nothing more than that," he said.

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Malibu is patrolled by members of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, and Benton said that a school administrator had met with officers at the Malibu-Lost Hills station.

"Profiling is wrong," Benton said. "It is frightening, it is demanding, threatening, it is wrong."

Last week, students joined others across the country, demonstrating against racism on campus and advocating for more diversity programs, largely in response to hateful messages that had recently been posted to Yik Yak. About 100 students gathered for three hours in a peaceful demonstration, Malibu Times reports. One of the students told the school paper The Graphic that he thought "the administration could be more responsive and address different social issues that are happening on campus—specifically the Yik Yak situation. We thought that the response was not adequate and that many students on campus still aren't aware of what happened."

The Yik Yak app allows people to post anonymous comments that can be read by anyone else with the app who is nearby. Earlier this month, a Fresno State student was arrested after allegedly posting that he was going to shoot a "hot blonde" on campus.

In the Pepperdine area on Oct. 23, someone posted to Yik Yak the following message: "The black lives matter movement is just an excuse for minorities to pull the race card and justify acting like thugs and attacking the brave men who keep US citizens safe #bluelivesmatter"

A response to the post read, "No way ... black people not only kill eachother [sic] but they kill regular people too. They are animals."

Students alerted Benton to the remarks via his Twitter account. Benton responded by saying, "Sites such as Juicy Campus and Yik Yak seem to bring out the worst in people. Some call it fun, but I think of it as cowardly and cruel," according to The Graphic.

The students who protested handed out a pamphlet that read, "We are calling on Pepperdine University Senior Administration to appropriately acknowledge the concerned sentiments of minority students at Seaver College. We deem appropriate acknowledgement constitutes in the form of Senior Administration implementing at least one of the following mandates." Seaver College is part of Pepperdine University, and focuses on the liberal arts.

The mandates included sensitivity training for faculty and students, and a General Education class on diversity. The students also want to shut down Yik Yak on University servers and WiFi. Additionally, they want the school to get rid of a statue of Christopher Columbus and carvings commemorating the California missions.

Other area schools—including Claremont McKenna College and Occidental College—have also had similar student protests recently.