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CofC president issues statement after 'racially insensitive' Halloween costume turns up on social media

Source: College of Charleston - Race and Social Justice Initiative Source: College of Charleston - Race and Social Justice Initiative
Source: College of Charleston - Race and Social Justice Initiative Source: College of Charleston - Race and Social Justice Initiative
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell says he is extremely disappointed after a social media post surfaced involving members of the campus community and a "racially insensitive" Halloween costume. 

"This whole situation is very painful to many people, and I am extremely disappointed that something like this is connected to our university," McConnell said in a statement released on Monday."In no way does this behavior reflect our College of Charleston core values, especially as it relates to diversity, community and respect for the individual student. Our education and our campus community are about lifting each other up, not tearing each other down." 

A statement from the college's Black Student Union stated the incident involves students wearing orange jumpsuits with one wearing the name "Freddie Gray" on the back of the suit. 

Freddie Gray died in Baltimore Police custody. His death raised questions about police brutality, but charges were later dropped against the officers involved in the case.

Another picture showed the n-word written on another person's bare skin.

College of Charleston students are speaking out against the Halloween costumes. Those costumes appeared online in a post saying the students attended schools in Baltimore and one of them now attends the college of Charleston.

Lanasa Clarkson is CofC student and the President of the Black Student Union (BSU) at the college.  

"My initial thought was wow that's very dehumanizing, like the black body doesn't mean much to white people, time and time again that's who we are trying to let know we do matter, our voice matters, our bodies matter," Clarkson said.

Bria Dantzler is a CofC student and the founder and CEO of an outreach organization that serves as voice for times like this. It's called Luminescent.

"I can't sit back and believe that people don't really know what they're doing when they're doing it it's really distasteful  to see things like that," Dantzler said. "It's very disheartening."

The Black Student Union says the man in the Freddie Gray outfit is a CofC student, and at least one of the pictures was on another CofC student's Snapchat

"Not only is this behavior disrespectful and demeaning to Black students here at The College, but it is also dehumanizing and mocks the Americans who are victims of police brutality and those who are grieving the lives lost due to the blatant lack of respect towards Black bodies," read a statement by the Black Student Union. 

The Black Student Union is asking that any and all students involved be expelled. The person who uploaded the photos says the other students attended Baltimore schools and the student who now attends the College of Charleston did as well. 

Junior at CofC Athanasios Grillias says the photos are 'messed up' and they don't embody the whole student body at the college. 

"It's terrible that it's at the school I go to, you hate to see it anywhere but especially somewhere here," Grillias said.

According to school officials, the College’s Division of Student Affairs and the Department of Public Safety are conducting a full investigation.

"If we determine that the institution’s student code of conduct or any other college policies have been violated, we will take appropriate action," school officials said."That being said, federal privacy laws limit the amount of information that can be shared regarding our ongoing investigation and its ultimate outcome."

McConnell released the following statement Monday afternoon: 

Dear Campus Community,

Over the weekend, College officials were made aware of a social media post involving one or more members of our campus community that contained a Halloween costume and messaging that was racially insensitive. This whole situation is very painful to many people, and I am extremely disappointed that something like this is connected to our university.

In no way does this behavior reflect our College of Charleston core values, especially as it relates to diversity, community and respect for the individual student. Our education and our campus community are about lifting each other up, not tearing each other down. 

Related to this specific off-campus incident, the College’s Division of Student Affairs and the Department of Public Safety are conducting a full investigation. If we determine that the institution’s student code of conduct or any other college policies have been violated, we will take appropriate action. That being said, federal privacy laws limit the amount of information that can be shared regarding our ongoing investigation and its ultimate outcome.

For those students who have been impacted by this incident or other hurtful experiences, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of several resources on campus:

The Office of Multicultural Student Programs and Services

The Office of Counseling and Substance Abuse Services

The Office of Institutional Diversity

The Residence Life staff.

With Halloween taking place tomorrow, if you plan to celebrate it, I encourage you to think about your party themes and costume choices and the impression they may have on others. If you have the slightest doubt if your costume/party theme is insensitive, be smart and don’t do it.

Racism and intolerance of any kind have no place on our campus – and in our world.

Sincerely,

Glenn

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved. 

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