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UW-Oshkosh Investigates, Calls Forum Over Racist Images

Forum Drew Hundreds Of Attendees

Wikimedia Commons

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh officials are investigating racist images circulating on social media involving students.

Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said university officials learned early Friday morning of photos posted to Twitter showing a whiteboard sign in an off-campus house that said “No Liberals, Jews, Muslims, Queers or Hmongs.” Another photo showed a swastika hanging on the wall during a party at the house.

The images led Leavitt to host a public forum on Friday afternoon that drew hundreds of people to discuss tolerance on campus.

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Leavitt said the images put the campus into discussion mode and the forum was aimed at opening lines of communication.

“We began a process of putting together an investigation, as well as a plan to be able to engage the campus in such a way that we could promote the kind of, I would say, healing, but an opportunity to speak,” he said.

Leavitt said the school offers counseling to people who might have trouble adjusting to campus life.

He said the campus is becoming more diverse on many levels.

“You can now definitely notice diversity when you walk across campus,” he said.

While the campus is still mostly white, Leavitt said a plan is in place to recruit more faculty, staff and students of color or those who identify themselves as a religious or sexual minority.

“I think that is part of the answer,” he said.

In terms of this specific incident, Leavitt said the dean of students and university police spoke with two students who live at the house on Friday.

He said students’ rights to free speech might limit sanctions the school can take against them. He said students have a constitutional right to say what they want, but investigators are looking into whether they disrupted the university, threatened or harassed anyone. Sanctions can include expulsion.