University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Investigates Racist Photos on Social Media

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has launched an investigation after a student reportedly posted photos of racist and homophobic messages on social media. The messages were posted in one of the university’s off-campus student housing units, then circulated on social media, the Oshkosh Northwestern reported. Photos show a whiteboard message with the words “No… Liberals, Jews, Muslims, Queers, or Hmongs” written on it. Another photo obtained by the publication shows what appears to be people playing a drinking game with red solo cups with a white swastika in the background.

Allison Keegstra posted the photos to Twitter on Thursday and told the Oshkosh Northwestern that she wanted to expose the people involved. The photos have over 3,200 retweets and nearly 10,000 likes as of Wednesday. University Chancellor Andrew Leavitt issued a statement on Friday, saying those who bring hate to the campus are encouraged to leave the university. “To anyone who brings hate into the @uwoshkosh community, I invite you to leave. We are aware of social media images that emerged overnight depicting racist messages and hateful symbols involving our students. We are investigating and take this seriously” Leavitt tweeted.

“I am angry, and I am sorry for the pain these images cause,” Leavitt said in the statement. “They are examples of hate and bias that defy everything we stand for as a university and inclusive community. We do not and will not tolerate it.” On Friday, Leavitt said during a community forum that the university found out about the photos at 1 a.m. when students tagged the university’s Twitter accounts in the images, according to the Oshkosh Northwestern. "There's an investigation underway, both by our Dean of Students Office and our University Police Department to see if there was any kind of criminality or policy infraction, based on what happened," Leavitt said.

Leavitt said they identified a student involved and all other people in the photos, according to the publication. The chancellor said officials will conclude whether the students did anything to violate university policy. “We cannot expel someone purely out of free speech,” he said, according to the publication.

Elashia Rosado Cartagena, a sophomore at the university, told The North Star that the university already had another forum earlier this month on the same student. She said he was only dropped from the clubs on campus that he was a part of and stated that appearing at another forum made her and her peers feel overlooked. "Coming back to the forum and hearing the same people expressing their same pain and hearing the same general answers [was] frustrating," Rosado Cartagena said.

The sophomore said there are days where she does not always feel safe on campus because she knows there are people that agree with the suspected student's point of view.

"In this particular campus culture, there is a tendency of overlooking racist actions and microaggressions," said Rosado Cartagena. "It makes me feel better that there is a group of students speaking out and not allowing bias to break us." Earlier this month, authorities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee found anti-Semitic graffiti at the university’s library. University officials said a student found the anti-Semitic remarks on a desk along with a swastika on April 16. The graffiti was removed and the university is currently investigating the matter.

“Vanderbilt University is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” the university said in a statement. “We wholeheartedly reject anti-Semitism and its symbols, and the abhorrent ideology associated with this act of vandalism has no place on our campus.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.