Administration condemns 'racist' language from Snapchat called out in meme group

In a post on the Duke Memes for Gothicc Teens Facebook group Thursday afternoon, a sophomore student was called out for posting Snapchats with text that included the word “n*****.”

The post containing screenshots from the student's Snapchat story first appeared Thursday afternoon on the meme page, but was removed. The first image in the post contained a hand holding a bottle of alcohol and the caption “Howdy, I’m a n*****.” The second image showed two men holding bottles of alcohol and the caption "JK i am not a n*****."

Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, issued a statement on the incident. On his personal Facebook page, the student publicly apologized for the Snapchat.

“A picture was uploaded to my snapchat story attached with a derogatory message,” the student wrote in the post on his Facebook page. “I would like to emphasize that I asked for the picture to be taken and the picture was posted and I only read the post afterwards. I take full responsibility for drinking to the point in which I was not aware of such a hateful message being posted." 

The images were posted again shortly after the first set was accidentally deleted. The second post on the meme page, which contained content warnings for racism and racial slurs, was also deleted by Facebook because it was reported for violating the site’s standards, according to a page administrator’s post in the group. The images were posted again, but they are not currently on the meme page.

“[The post] keeps getting deleted because Facebook decided it's against their ‘Community Standard,’ so they're deleting it,” wrote senior Aamir Azhar, a page administrator, in the Facebook group. “To those reporting it directly to Facebook so you don't have to come to terms with racism on Duke's campus, I hope you're happy.”

Moneta posted a statement on his Twitter account condemning the language used.

“We are aware of a posting that appeared on a Duke student’s Facebook site that used deeply offensive and racist terminology,” he wrote. “Though the language itself may not be in violation of any Duke policies on speech and expression, we nonetheless find its use to be deplorable.”

Moneta also wrote in the statement that it was uncertain whether the student would go through the traditional disciplinary process.

“While there may not be formal student conduct consequences for his actions, we are aware of and acknowledge those students and student groups holding him accountable for his behavior,” Moneta wrote.

The student wrote on his Facebook page that he removed the Snapchat post from his story after he discovered what the caption said.

“I do not endorse nor support this type of racist behavior and I sincerely apologize to all Duke students, staff, administration and the African American community at large,” he wrote.

The student later posted a video on his personal Facebook, in which a friend claimed personal responsibility for the Snapchats.

In an email Thursday night, Moneta wrote that he learned about the incident in the late afternoon and contacted several of his staff. He said he asked one of his staff to reach out to the student who allegedly posted the Snapchats and encourage him to take them down and issue an apology.

"We will continue to work with this student and any others involved so that they learn from this incident, will support students who are personally offended by the posts and continue to focus [on] ways to educate all students so that similar behaviors don’t recur," Moneta wrote.

Senior Jordan Peasant, who was the original poster of the screenshots of the Snapchats on the meme page, said she learned about the incident through a large GroupMe. After discussion within the GroupMe, they decided to post it on the meme page so students could see it and make their own decisions about it, rather than relying on action from the administration. Peasant said it was frustrating that the post kept being deleted, but was largely pleased by the community's response.

“That word, the ‘n’ word, doesn’t affect everyone, but somebody using that word in that way should make everyone outraged," Peasant said.

Editor's note: This article was updated Thursday night to include comments from Moneta and Peasant. 

Correction: This article was updated Thursday night with the corrected spelling of Aamir Azhar's name. The Chronicle regrets the error.


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