Penn Students in Uproar After Online Post Calling for Lynchings

Black students were added to an online group called "Mud Men" that had scheduled a “daily lynching.” Penn says the group’s creator was traced to Oklahoma.

Penn campus

This is a developing story.

Many people affiliated with Penn have displayed their embarrassment that a 1968 graduate is the next president of the United States. Now Penn students are in an uproar after racist online attacks on its students in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.

On Friday, multiple black freshmen were added to a group message in GroupMe called “Mud Men.” Someone set up a event titled “Daily Lynching.”

Penn slurs

A screenshot of the racist online group.

“Earlier today a number of Black freshman students at Penn were added to a racist Group Me account that appears to be based in Oklahoma,” Penn said in a statement released by communications director Ron Ozio. “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. Staff in the office of VPUL are identifying students who were impacted and providing support. Affected students should go to the VPUL office. 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 incidents at Penn are just several in a series of racist incidents reported at campuses around the nation.

“I spent my morning running to the Vice Provost office of my university in the middle of class because my freshmen brothers and sisters got added to a group called ‘Nigger Lynching,’” a Penn undergraduate wrote on Facebook. “Literally, every single black freshmen was added. I stared an administrator in the eye and literally lost it. And quite honestly I just can’t stop crying. I feel sick to my stomach. I don’t feel safe.”

Nationally, neither Trump nor the leaders of the national Republican Party have issued statements on the racist incidents around the country. The city’s Republican Party, which supported Trump’s campaign, has not issued a statement either. Penn College Republicans, who did not back Trump in the election, did issue a statement: “These messages are absolutely despicable. Hate such as this has no place on Penn’s campus or in our nation. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected, and we hope that Penn administration and Penn police find the perpetrators as soon as possible.”

Mayor Jim Kenney also released a statement: “I condemn in the strongest possible terms the racist activity taking place at the University of Pennsylvania. Everyone is welcome in Philadelphia regardless of whether they are a freshman at one of our universities or if they’ve always called Philadelphia home. It is heartbreaking to see this type of activity here in the birthplace of our democracy and the city of brotherly love. I urge the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to investigate and hold all responsible parties accountable for this disgusting behavior.”

Also on early Wednesday morning, a video first published by The Daily Pennsylvanian shows students at Smokey Joe’s chanting “Build the Wall” after Trump’s victory early Wednesday morning.

At 5 p.m. Friday, Penn president Amy Gutmann released the following statement:

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 account 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.

Some professors have pushed back exams after today’s incident, and in the wake of the general unease among minorities at Penn and across the country in the wake of Trump’s election.

This evening, Penn cultural student group leaders are privately convening to discuss how to respond to the recent incidents on campus.

Additional reporting by Ernest Owens.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.