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December 10, 2015

Black students at Pa. university protest demeaning Snapchat photo

After caption compares students in library to animals, IUP president announces university-wide dialogues

Race Relations Internet
121015_IUP Contributed Art/Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

A group of black students at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania joined in protest Wednesday over an offensively captioned photo posted online to the ephemeral social media Snapchat.

The photo in question showed a group of black students inside the campus library with the caption, "Monkeys stay in groups," according to ABC News.

About 50 students marched across the IUP campus, located about 45 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, to demand answers from university president Michael Driscoll.

Earlier Wednesday, Driscoll addressed the student body with a letter addressing his concern about the university climate.

As I’ve worked side-by-side with you this fall, I have felt a growing sense of unease about how we talk about and treat each other. I’ve sometimes felt that we have not risen to our shared values and have fallen short of being an inclusive, welcoming community of people who learn and grow together ...
My concern is not about a single incident or some specific sequence of events. It is not just about free speech, stereotypes, civility, or prejudice — although all of those are important parts of the discussion. It is not about creating a place where each of us is comfortable. Rather, it is about how we come together as a family to challenge ourselves to grow individually and as a collective.

Driscoll reportedly attempted to reassure the protesters that the university is conducting an investigation into the incident, but also called for an end to the personal threats made against the student suspected of creating the image. Due to privacy regulations, Driscoll said he could not talk about the suspect or discuss disciplinary action she may face.

In his letter, Driscoll said that the next step for IUP will be to hold a series of university-wide dialogues to create an environment where difficult discussions can be had to bridge differences among the student body of approximately 15,000 undergraduates and post-graduates.