One of the people involved in adding black freshmen to a racist GroupMe chat had previously been admitted to Penn as a member of the Class of 2020, University officials announced Tuesday night.
Penn administrators sent an email saying its investigation determined that “one of the individuals being investigated in Oklahoma had been offered admission to Penn, accepted the offer in May, but chose, ultimately, not to attend. Having accepted Penn’s admission offer, he was invited to join and access the private Facebook group created for the Class of 2020, which is a common practice among many colleges and universities.” The email added that the individual was able to access contact information from black freshmen in this way to add them to the GroupMe.
On Tuesday morning, the University of Oklahoma announced that the student who was suspended in connection with the sent to black Penn freshmen is no longer enrolled.
A student at Tulsa Community College was placed on “interim academic suspension” after being “identified with a social media group that posted racist messages identified by federal authorities to be potential criminal activity.” Vice President for University Communications Stephen MacCarthy confirmed that this was connected to the racist GroupMe messages sent to Penn students.
OU President David Boren , “As our university has clearly demonstrated in the past, we have zero tolerance at this university for those who would engage in racism.”
OU spokesperson Rowdy Gilbert declined to reveal the identity of the expelled student when reached by The Daily Pennsylvanian, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
On Monday evening, Gilbert confirmed that OU officials are continuing their investigation. “The University of Oklahoma Police Department is investigating and is in communication with University of Pennsylvania officials,” he wrote.
In 2015, two OU fraternity members were expelled from the school and more than two dozen others were disciplined after a video leaked of the students, members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, singing a racist chant on a bus.
Black freshmen at Penn were not the only university students added to a racist GroupMe thread on Nov. 11. According to screenshots obtained by The Daily Pennsylvanian, at least two individuals whose names appear in a thread with similar messages attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
that multiple students informed Ariana Fowler, the student body president, of the hateful messages in the GroupMe.These included racial slurs and an event titled “Daily lynching,” as did the chat to which Penn students were added.
Dean of Students Mark Bandas and the Vanderbilt University Police Department were also notified, according to The Hustler.
“The Dean of Students has been trying to get all the name [sic.], because they want to personally reach out to those students to make sure they’re ok,” Fowler told The Hustler. “I know people were interested in reporting to VUPD and I’m not sure if they did.”
In an interview with The DP, Fowler said that around 10 or 11 Vanderbilt students were added to the chat on Friday evening. Two of the students were white males in SAE.
“In terms of the other students who were added, it seems as though they were minority students,” she said.
Not all of the Vanderbilt students added to the chat were freshmen — one of the members of SAE is a current senior.
Vanderbilt Public Affairs Officer Liz Entman wrote to The DP in an email, “At this time, Vanderbilt has not received any formal reports from students but is continuing to look into the matter.”
In the GroupMe messages sent to Penn and Vanderbilt students, ” which can be downloaded online to control chat rooms, sent a message reading “Never be a n—r in SAE” each time a new individual was added to the group. “GORT” was likely controlled by the creator of the chat, who is still unknown.
A GroupMe spokesperson told The DP on Sunday, “As soon as we became aware of the chats taking place on GroupMe that violated our terms of service, we took action and removed the chats. We’re investigating to determine which user accounts will be suspended.”
Penn officials informed the undergraduate student body in an email sent Sunday evening that the three individuals linked to the GroupMe all live in Oklahoma. President Boren said in an earlier statement that,“It would appear this matter did not originate at the University of Oklahoma, but started elsewhere.”
Penn confirmed that in posting racist messages to the chat. Penn Police continue to work with the FBI in the ongoing investigation.
It is unclear if students from additional universities beyond Penn and Vanderbilt were added to the GroupMe chat.
that Microsoft, which owns GroupMe, announced that it is also investigating the incident and will suspend accounts as it sees fit.