Over the weekend, the New York Times published an extensive piece from Dan Levin detailing the story of how Mimi Groves was removed from the University of Tennessee's cheer squad and ultimately withdrew from the college after a 2016 Snapchat clip resurfaced in which she was seen and heard using the n-word.
The clip in question, which sees Groves looking into the camera and using the n-word after getting her learner's permit, was initially shared among a few students at Heritage High School. At the time, however, the clip didn't garner widespread reaction. In 2019, Jimmy Galligan—a classmate of Groves—received the video from a friend but held onto it until Groves had selected which college she would attend.
"If I never posted that video, nothing would have ever happened," Galligan told the Times.
A high school student said a racial slur in a video. Her classmate posted it online to teach her a lesson, after she had chosen a university. Then came the backlash. https://t.co/JpOW0Chokf
— Dan Levin (@globaldan) December 26, 2020
Following the Times story, Shanlon Wu—a CNN legal analyst and ex-federal prosecutor—started representing Groves. In an interview with the Tennessee Star posted Wednesday, Wu claimed Groves and Galligan had previously been friends and said Groves is "appalled" at her behavior in the clip. Wu is also critical of the university's handling of the controversy, arguing that "it was a classic rush to judgment," though many disagree with that assessment.
"They gave her an ultimatum: either you withdraw, or we rescind your offer," Wu said. "And, comments were made along the lines of 'you won't be very happy here [at our school].'" Moving forward, Wu and Groves are holding out hope that the university "will realize they made a hasty decision … and do the right thing here."
The renewed attention on the 2016 clip of the now-19-years-old Groves has been met with a wave of reactions on social media. While some agree with Wu's take, others have defended the response of the university, noting that this should be viewed as a lesson for other white people who use the slur in any context.
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