The University of South Carolina says it has suspended a student over a photo showing a racial slur being written on a board in a campus study room.
Multiple media outlets reported President Harris Pastides announced the suspension Friday. Pastides said the unidentified student also faces university code of conduct investigations. He said the school's Board of Trustees also endorsed the action.
A school spokesman wouldn't comment on whether the student faces expulsion.
The photo shows a white female student writing the slur directed at blacks on a whiteboard and blaming them, among other reasons, for university's wireless poor Internet connections.
While not identified by the school, the student's name was shared on social media posts that included angry comments about the slur and the student.
"Today, the unfortunate and disappointing act of a student in a study room has challenged the Carolina community to reflect on our values and tell the world what we believe," Pastides said in a statement. "Respect for all is at the heart of the Carolinian Creed, the code by which we agree to abide. Racist and uncivil rhetoric have no place at the University of South Carolina."
The picture marked the third such incident in the past week.
Bucknell University expelled three students for making racist comments during a March 20 campus radio broadcast. At Duke University, a noose was found hanging from a tree. A student has admitted to placing the noose on the tree, and school officials say that person is no longer on campus, although disciplinary actions are pending and criminal charges are under consideration.
The question of whether racist incidents are on the rise on campus is difficult to answer; news articles dating back to the 1980s decry the "new racism" on college campuses. The Office of Civil Rights in the US Department of Education reported 555 complaints based on race or ethnicity in 2009 and 860 such incidents in 2013. What's not fully understood is the the influence of social media in creating and publicizing such incidents. More reported incidents could be the product of more awareness – or not.
What is clearer is that talk about a "post-racial" generation is premature, and colleges have a chance to become a more significant player in the struggle to soothe racial animosity.
“Even when parents have positive racial attitudes, children can absorb the prejudices of their peers and the wider cultural milieu,” said Beverly Tatum, author of "Can We Talk About Race?" and president of Spelman College in Atlanta, to Inside Higher Ed this year. “We can be sure that all members of our campus population have come to college with stereotypes and prejudices about some other segment of our student body. As a result, higher education institutions have some of the greatest responsibility to challenge misconceptions and explore differences – and to help students develop their capacity to connect across them."