Yik Yak

The president of Western Washington University canceled classes Tuesday after learning of anonymous hate speech posted on social media that targeted students of color.

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"A threat to any one of us is an attack on all of us," WWU president Bruce Shepard wrote students in an email sent early Tuesday morning. "We need time to press the criminal investigation and to plan how, as a campus, we will come together to demonstrate our outrage, to listen to each other, and to support each other. So, I have decided to cancel classes today in order to provide that time."

The university later confirmed that the racist threats were made over Yik Yak, an anonymous social-messaging mobile app popular on college campuses.

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According to The Washington Post, the threats might have been posted in response to a recent on-campus push to make the school's mascot, a white male Viking character, more inclusive to WWU's student body, which The Associated Press reports is 25% non-white. It appears that the original Yik Yak post has since been taken down.

Threats targeting black students at the University of Missouri were posted to Yik Yak earlier this month amid protests against institutionalized racism, although Mizzou's administration did not cancel classes like WWU. Other non-racialized threats of on-campus violence have found their way onto the mobile app's discussion threads.

"This sort of misbehavior is NOT what Yik Yak is to be used for," Yik Yak co-founder and COO Brooks Buffington wrote in a recent blog post. "It is not condoned by Yik Yak, and it violates our Terms of Service…Yik Yak works alongside local authorities to help in investigations, and we may share information with law enforcement as set forth in our Privacy Policy and legal page."

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