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University of Pennsylvania black students added en masse to ‘lynching’ GroupMe chats

Image courtesy of University of Pennsylvania 

The University of Pennsylvania is investigating a GroupMe account after black students were added to chats called “Nigger Lynching,” “Mud Men,” and “Trump is Love” today.

The mobile messaging app was used to harass students en masse with racial slurs and threats. Images began circling on social media earlier today, where students shared screenshots. In one image, a user called “Daddy Trump” proceeded to sling slurs at students. Another image included a hat bearing the phrase “grab them by the pussy.”

Under the “Mud Men” thread, another user created a “daily lynching” calendar event before dropping in horrific photos of lynching.

Trump graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968.

In an email to The Verge, director of media relations Ron Ozio confirmed that “a number of black freshman students at Penn” were targeted by at least one account, which “appears to be based in Oklahoma.”

“The account contains violent, racist and thoroughly repugnant images and messages. Our police and information security staff are trying to locate the exact source and see what steps can be taken to cut the account off,” Ozio said via email. “Staff in the office of VPUL are trying to determine exactly how many students were impacted and how best to provide support. The University is taking every step possible to address both the source of the racist material and the impact it has had on Black students on campus.”

The messages appear to have come from several accounts, based on the images on social media. When contacted by phone, Ozio declined to answer further questions.

On Facebook, one student described the events briefly before adding, “I don’t feel safe.”

“This is personal,” the student said. “To all my fellow black students, the Vice Provost office is open for you as a safe space ... know that we are active.”

Update November 11th, 5:50PM ET: The University of Pennsylvania issued a statement from president Amy Gutmann, provost Vincent Price and executive vice president Craig Carnaroli:

We are absolutely appalled that earlier today Black freshman students at Penn were added to a racist GroupMe account that appears to be based in Oklahoma. The account itself is totally repugnant: it contains violent, racist and thoroughly disgusting images and messages. This is simply deplorable. Our police and information security staff are trying to locate the exact source and to determine if any steps can be taken to block the account. Staff in the Office of Vice Provost for University Life are working nonstop with us and our students to determine exactly who has been targeted and how many, and we are doing everything in our power to provide the necessary support and will continue to do so. The University is also taking every step possible to address both the source of the racist material and the impact it has had on Black students on campus.

This is absolutely vile material and completely offensive to everyone on our campus. We are both angry and saddened that it was directed to our students or to anyone. The people responsible for this are reprehensible. We have increased campus safety and are reaching out to support the affected students in every way we can, and want them to know that the entire Penn community stands with them.

We must reiterate how absolutely essential it is to the core values of our community, and also to the well-being of our society and world, that all persons be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. The racism of this GroupMe message is profoundly inimical to what we stand for as a university. We will take every step possible to counteract its appalling bias. And we all stand together in solidarity with our Black students who have been so terribly targeted.