Backlash after Kansas student wears face mask, uses ‘N’ word to describe herself

Snapchat Mask

MANHATTAN, Kan. — A now former Kansas State University student shared a Snapchat selfie of herself and a friend in what appears to be a black, cosmetic face mask.

The capture ‘Feels good to finally be a N…..’ accompanied the photo. (The photo caption has been blurred due to the use of the word.)

Many around campus shared the picture and others condemned the student for being racist according to WDAF-TV.

Snapchat Mask

After anger over the post started to grow, Paige Shoemaker left the school

Then, Thursday afternoon, Shoemaker issued an apology on Facebook.

“We had only meant for it to be taken in a funny way, but we clearly understand that what we said should never be joked around about. People shouldn’t joke around about such a serious topic like this because it feeds racism,” she said.

“We know what we did was wrong,” she said at the end of her social statement.

In a letter posted on the Kansas State University website, Dr Zelia Wiley, Interim Associate Provost for Diversity, writes that the student is no longer enrolled at K-State:

Dear students, faculty and staff,

On Sept. 15, the university received notice that a derogatory social message and photo was sent out via social media. The involved person is no longer enrolled at the university. It is our understanding the second individual in the photo is not associated with the university.

Immediately upon notification, the Campus Climate Response Team, or CCRT, which consists of representatives from the Office of Diversity, Office of Institutional Equity, Office of Student Life, the K-State Student Union and Division of Communications and Marketing, met to address this recent social media posting. This racially offensive photo with a derogatory message has upset the K-State family and is not in concert with our principals of community. Such messages on social media are harmful to all.

In cooperation with the Office of Student Life and the Office of Institutional Equity, or OIE, the university will reinforce its value for diversity and inclusion while also communicating our principles of community for all students, faculty and staff. As an integral part of the response to this concern, the university will offer support services to any affected student and also will contact the involved parties. This incident supports our continued proactive outreach and cultural training efforts to the students, faculty and staff. Additionally, our office is working diligently with the Student Governing Association, or SGA, its multicultural student coordinator and interested student groups to realize its Diversity 2025 goals, which include social justice.

The Office of Diversity mentors and advises our various multicultural student organizations, especially our core groups — the Black Student Union, or BSU; Hispanic American Leadership Organization, or HALO; Asian American Student Union; and Native American Student Association — who have shown leadership in raising the university’s awareness to these incidents in a thoughtful way. We also support our affinity groups, Black Faculty Staff Alliance, or BFSA, Alianza, LGBTQ Faculty Staff Alliance and Indigenous Alliance who are not immune to such comments and yet they work to support and mentor our future leaders.

As members of the K-State family, we should always visualize and work toward a safe, welcoming environment for our community. I and other members of the CCRT welcome the opportunity to speak with our affected students and employees as we continue create a culture of inclusion for the entire K-State family.
Yours in service,

Dr. Zelia Wiley

Below is the first, original letter posted to the website from Dean Bosco:

Letter from the VP for Student Life and Dean of Students Pat Bosco

Dear students, faculty and staff,

I have become aware that one of our students posted a racially offensive photo today on social media and used one of the most derogatory words in the English language. This photo has students, faculty, staff and other members of the K-State family upset. It rightly should, as there is no place for racism at our university, regardless of what the intentions may have been. K-State prides itself on being one family, no matter your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or abilities. All members of the K-State family deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

As always, I want to applaud our students for their maturity and actions when it comes to these issues. Our students, faculty, administration and the Office of Diversity have done phenomenal work in areas of diversity and inclusion on our campuses. I especially want to note the diligent work of the K-State Black Student Union and its efforts and legacy of addressing these issues in an effective and pragmatic way. Over the past few years, BSU has worked in unison with the Staley School of Leadership Studies on its Cats for Inclusion Campaign. This campaign works to create effective dialogue around issues of race, and teaches would-be allies on how to take an effective anti-racist stance:

I also am proud of the preliminary work that a cross section of student leaders from various organizations, including the Black Student Union, Hispanic American Leadership Organization, Asian American Student Union, Native American Student Association and the Student Governing Association, has done to create a student initiative around issues of diversity. Even with these initiatives, we obviously still have work to do. We are firmly committed to the principles of community at Kansas State University, and it is important that we educate our students daily on these principles. We must do better, and we will do better.

Pat Bosco
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students