Three paramedics have been fired at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, according to an Associated Press story: EMS workers fired over alleged racist hazing.
The university’s president said Friday that the three were terminated after cell phone camera images surfaced of paramedic trainees at University Hospital in Newark garbed in white sheets resembling Ku Klux Klan robes.
“UMDNJ has never and will never tolerate attitudes and behaviors that discriminate against any individual or group,” university President William F. Owen Jr. said in a written statement. “The actions taken by the individuals in this instance are appalling.”
Mayor Booker released a statement indicating his agreement with the University’s immediate dismissal of the staff: UMDNJ fires 3 paramedics over KKK hazing incident
Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, which contracts with UMDNJ for emergency medical services, said the episode was “completely unacceptable.”
“The City of Newark will not tolerate such behavior by medical professionals, and we are glad that UMDNJ has moved to terminate these individuals,” he said in a statement.
This particular hazing doesn’t actually appear to have been racially driven as it was thematic, as students entering the program are regularly hazed in one way or another. Still, the conduct and insensitivity of the staff members — who work in one of the very cities nearly destroyed by racially-charged injustices 41 years ago — ought to be grounds for immediate dismissal and even criminal charges: Anger growing over KKK hazing incident at UMDNJ
UMDNJ president William F. Owen, who disclosed details of the incident on Friday, said investigators who have talked with other paramedics believe the incident was sparked by a racist video downloaded from the website YouTube. He said the students were apparently pressured to participate. They immediately left the campus and returned to the Boston university, Northeastern officials said.
The state medical university said it has been in contact with law enforcement officials, but UMDNJ general counsel Lester Aron yesterday questioned whether the incident could be viewed as a bias crime because it was not directed at anyone.
“This was more prank-like; hazing-like,” Aron said. “It’s horrendous, but it does not appear to be directed at anyone as a bias crime. It feels like a hazing. A sick hazing.”