On Monday afternoon, Quinnipiac University's public relations department became aware of a screenshot of a Snapchat photo circulating on social media. The picture, which appears to show a student wearing a clay face mask, is captioned with the phrase, "Black lives matter." Students at the university accused of the image of depicting blackface and belittling the Black Lives Matter movement.
People, including many associated with Quinnipiac, in Hamden, Connecticut, reacted strongly to the picture on Twitter.
On Tuesday, the university released a statement condemning the photo.
"The university takes this matter very seriously and acted swiftly to discipline those responsible for the offensive photo," they wrote on their Facebook page. "This incident does not reflect the true nature of our university, where we have a long history of zero tolerance for any acts of racism, hatred or bigotry.”
John Morgan, an assistant vice president of public relations at Quinnipiac, told Fusion that the person who took the photo and wrote the caption, also a Quinnipiac University student, was disciplined. Neither student has been identified.
In an email to students, executive vice provost Mark Thompson elaborated on the university's decision.
"I believe this is an opportunity for all of us to reaffirm our long standing commitment to diversity, inclusion and creating an environment that is supportive and respectful of all of its members."
These type of swiftly made, strongly worded statements from universities in response to controversial photos posted to Snapchat by students have become shockingly commonplace in the past week.
At Kansas State, Paige Shoemaker's Snapchat selfie captioned, "Feels good to finally be a nigga" surfaced last Thursday morning, and resulted in Shoemaker's dismissal from Kansas State University later that day. The photo was widely criticized for using a racial slur, with Shoemaker’s face mask also being viewed as an alleged depiction of blackface.
"There is no place for racism at our university, regardless of what the intentions may have been," the university wrote in a statement. "K-State prides itself on being one family, no matter your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or abilities.”
Next came Justin Woodard, who late Monday night posted a photo of two Philadelphia Eagles players raising their fists during the national anthem in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“Piece of shit niggers,” Woodard wrote. “Every one of them needs a damn bullet in their head. If you don’t like this country get the hell out.”
Come morning Tuesday, Belmont University, in Nashville, had issued their own a statement.
“We reject comments rooted in racism or bigotry. This is not free speech—this is hate speech,” it read. “As a Christian institution, it is our goal to build a diverse and inclusive community where all members feel accepted, safe and valued.”
Woodard was expelled from the university.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.