In another case of black people being targeted in the wake of the presidential election, freshman at the University of Pennsylvania were added to group chats called “Nigger Lynchings,” “Mud Men,” and “Trump Is Love” on messaging app GroupMe Friday morning. The racist messages led to the suspension of a University of Oklahoma student and a “reeling” black student body at UPenn, according to student newspaper the Daily Pennsylvanian.
UPenn, which is President-elect Trump’s alma mater, put out a statement Friday afternoon describing the actions and content of the groups as “deplorable,” “vile,” and “completely offensive.” The University said the GroupMe account that added the black students was based in Oklahoma. (As The Verge pointed out, posts on social media seem to indicate that there were several GroupMe accounts adding UPenn students.)
This was confirmed by University of Oklahoma President David Boren, who said in a statement that the school was taking “swift action” and temporarily suspended a student allegedly connected to the account, going on to say that “the matter did not originate at the University of Oklahoma, but started elsewhere,” without going into more detail.
Students of color at UPenn are organizing around the incident, according to the Pennsylvanian, and have begun voicing concerns for their safety and well-being to the Vice Provost of University Life’s office.
“People ask me everyday am I a student here. I have a fucking 3.2 GPA, I am about to get my Master’s and people ask me every day, do you belong here, explain yourself. So for freshmen, who are made to feel like they don’t belong here, freshmen who don’t have GPAs yet, freshmen who haven’t even taken finals yet, they just got through their midterms which is hell. They’ll wake up and see that somebody has set a date for them to be lynched, it’s unacceptable and if the entire students body is not upset, shocked and outraged about it, I have nothing else to say,” a student protester told the newspaper.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf expressed solidarity with the affected students, tweeting, “We will do everything we can to end & prevent these hateful incidents,” as did Sen. Bob Casey.
Several UPenn professors and student groups condemned the messages on Friday, including the Penn College Republicans.
UPenn is just the latest college to be hit with a racist social media scandal this year. In September, just 67 miles northwest, white students at Albright College circulated videos of themselves in blackface on Snapchat. They’ve been joined by white students at Belmont University in Nashville, Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, Eastern Michigan University, Xavier University in Cincinnati, the University of Alabama, and many others.
The Young Turks‘ Cenk Uygur discussed the issue of rising college campus racism with University of Michigan students in October.