A University of North Dakota investigation has found that a photo featuring students wearing black face did not violate the school’s student life code.
The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities investigators ruled Wednesday the photo did not violate the code because of “the constitutional protection of free speech,” reports Twin Cities.com-Pioneer Press. The investigation also found a second photo of another group of students also did not violate the Code of Student Life.
“After a full review of the information, the Code of Student Life, and the laws pertaining to each incident, and after consulting with General Council, OSRR has concluded that neither incident constitutes a violation of the UND Code of Student Life,” the school said.
One of the Snapchat photos in question showed three female students with the caption “Locked the black bitch out.” A UND student claimed that the students took her friend’s phone and posted the picture to her friend’s Snapchat.
A second picture came out 48 hours after the first. The photo showed students wearing black beauty masks and it was captioned “Black Lives Matter.” (RELATED: Students Accused Of Black Face After Posting Snapchat In Beauty Masks)
The university’s president, Mark Kennedy, said he “condemned the thoughtlessness that led to these incidents.” He also said he met with student leaders to discuss the photo incident and the idea of Zero Tolerance.
“While I appreciate the desire for such a policy, it is unachievable under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Kennedy said in the news release. “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.”
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