The University of North Dakota has decided not to punish the students who posted racially charged photographs of themselves to the social media platform Snapchat.
One of the offensive photos that surfaced within a 48-hour period in late September showed four people in blackface and was captioned “Black lives matter.” A second pictured three students smiling in a dorm room, captioned “locked the black b–ch out.” The people in the photographs appear to be white and a UND spokesperson confirmed to the Star Tribune that the people pictured were students at the school.
A statement from the University’s President, Mark Kennedy, said the school completed the investigation of the photographs but concluded that neither incident constituted a violation of the UND Code of Student Life.
“The challenge we all face is to find the balance between wanting to eliminate expressions of racism and bigotry and supporting the free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment,” he wrote. “If we value freedom of speech, we must acknowledge that some may find the expressions of others unwelcome, painful, or even, offensive. We can, however, speak out and condemn such expressions, and we can work to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment.”
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