The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has suspended five student-athletes from the university’s football team and are continuing to investigate an incident where the players have been accused of using the social media platform Snapchat to convey racist messages targeting a campus black empowerment organization.
Snapchat posts showed an image of crosses burning and Klu Klux Klan members in the background posted by a user who wrote, “For all who can’t make the BME (Black Male Empowerment) meeting, (we) are holding WME tonight at 7.”
Dennis Beale, the founder of BME, responded to the issue on the BME Facebook page.
“I am appalled about what I have seen on social media,” Beale said. “This group was designed to help change the perception of African American Males on a predominantly white campus. Along with exemplifying the black excellence that these young men display on a daily basis. It is very disturbing to see the backlash we get from the people in our own backyard.”
UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt condemned the racist messages.
“I have high regard for (Black Male Empowerment’s) great work on campus, and I am disgusted by the actions taken by these students,” he said in an interview with the Leader-Telegram. “Ignorance is excusable, but racist actions are not.”
Schmidt says he is committed to finishing the investigation and deciding whether further action needs to be taken in a timely manner, according to WEAU 13 News in Eau Claire, and that he expects to have an update before students leave for Thanksgiving break on Tuesday.