AMES, Iowa -- Racial tension has made its way to the Iowa State University campus after a racially charged picture was taken there then shared on social media hundreds of times. Now school officials are working to calm the campus before fall classes begin next week.
The picture of three students in front of the Black Engineering Building with a caption including the n – word, was posted to the social media site, Snapchat. According to the Iowa State Daily Newspaper, Kyle Malaker, a white incoming engineering student used the caption because he thought it would be funny.
Students quickly responded to the picture online and outside of the building, writing in sidewalk chalk “racism will not be tolerated.”
Freshman civil engineering student, Bailey Irvin, says the use of the n - word is ignorant and hurtful.
“I personally don`t even like to use it. It’s just so strong and people like to play around with it all the time.”
The Des Moines native says she chose to attend Iowa State due to its inclusive atmosphere but now is beginning to question it.
“I’m already nervous about classes and I know that I`m probably going to be one of the only female black students in most of my classes so it`s a lot to deal with,” Irvin says.
Irvin say the students involved in posting the photo should be expelled. The University’s Dean of Students office says it met with the students Wednesday to decide if the students violated the “student disciplinary regulation” code. If broken, school officials say the students could face disciplinary action.
The University’s Vice President of Student Affairs released a statement condemning the post, calling it racist and thoughtless.
“It was particularly troubling in light of the recent occurrences in Charlottesville and is further evidence of a continuing need to fight racist attitudes from all sources. We are clearly not where we need to be. This in no way reflects the attitudes or values of Iowa State University and is counter to the climate we are attempting to build,” says Martino Harmon. He goes onto say, "We value all of our students. As part of our new student onboarding, we will reinforce diversity and inclusion and teach and demonstrate our Principles of Community. We are also working to improve our new student onboarding to address campus climate issues. As a University, our goal is to ensure that all of our students are safe, included, and have the ability to succeed. We will continue to work with the specific students involved in this incident as well as all other students, faculty, staff, and administrators to advance toward this goal."
The Black Engineering Building is named after Henry M. Black, a white professor who helped to advance the mechanical engineering program at the university.