Social media posts featuring college students making racist remarks have circulated amid the George Floyd protests, prompting universities across the nation to take appropriate action.
Institutions such as Penn and Temple University are reviewing old social media posts containing racial slurs that have resurfaced, while Penn State is reviewing an offensive post targeted at the George Floyd protests. Other universities have taken disciplinary action and expelled students in response to inflammatory posts.
Last week, a five-year-old video allegedly featuring a Penn student yelling the N-word at a peer while they both were in high school went viral on Twitter. Rising Wharton sophomore Sam Lesser, the student in question, denies the allegations, claiming that the slurs have been falsely attributed to him. The high school peer, however, maintains that Lesser yelled the racial slur. University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that Penn is aware of the allegation and working to learn more about the matter.
Psi Upsilon fraternity, known as “Castle,” suspended Lesser from the fraternity indefinitely on June 2, one day after the video was first posted to Twitter. Psi Upsilon then announced to Instagram on June 7 that Lesser resigned from the fraternity.
Lesser has not responded to multiple requests for comment since his resignation from Psi Upsilon.
Similarly, Temple is reviewing Snapchat posts from 2017 that resurfaced on Twitter last week of TikTok influencer Gabe Escobar, who is an incoming first year at Temple, using the N-word and homophobic slurs. Escobar posted a 13-minute video to his Instagram on June 3 apologizing for his behavior.
A student who attended high school with Lesser told the DP that while they are not sure why the video featuring Lesser has resurfaced after five years, the timing feels right considering the current climate of America and protests against the murder of George Floyd.
George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck against the ground for nearly nine minutes on May 25. Floyd's death has mobilized hundreds of thousands to protest police brutality and the systemic racism against Black people.
In a video posted to Twitter on May 31, a Penn State student allegedly directed the N-word toward protesters in Aston, Pennsylvania. Like Lesser, the student claimed that the slur has been falsely attributed to him. Penn State wrote in a statement released on June 1 that the University is disgusted by the behavior portrayed in the video, and that staff members have reached out to the student, according to The Daily Collegian.
Other institutions have expelled students for posting inflammatory comments amid the George Floyd protests.
The University of South Carolina expelled a student on June 1 for calling Black people gorillas on Snapchat and saying that they need to go to jail, according to WIS News 10. The University's president, Bob Caslen, announced on May 31 the implementation of a new diversity module required of all incoming first years beginning in the 2020-2021 academic year.
Marquette University rescinded an offer of admission from an incoming first year in response to comments made on Snapchat claiming that if kneeling during the national anthem is allowed, so too should "kneeling on someone's head," according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.