Crime & Courts

College of Charleston investigates racially derogatory Halloween costume, photos

The president of College of Charleston said he is “extremely disappointed” by a white student wearing a racially insensitive Halloween costume and another with a racially derogatory word written on his skin.

“This whole situation is very painful to many people, and I am extremely disappointed that something like this is connected to our university,” president Glenn McConnell said in a statement released on Twitter on Monday. “In no way does this behavior reflect our College of Charleston core values, especially as it relates to diversity, community and respect for the individual student.

“Our education and our campus community are about lifting each other up, not tearing each other down,” McConnell said. “ ... Racism and intolerance of any kind have no place on our campus – and in our world.”

According to the college’s Black Student Union, a photo posted on Snapchat shows a male student in an orange jail suit with the name “Freddie Gray” on back and the caption, “Ur going to jail tonight.” Gray, a 25-year-old African American, suffered fatal spinal cord injuries while being taken in a Baltimore police van in April 2015.

Another white student is pictured with a racially derogatory word written on his back.

Students involved should be expelled, the college’s Black Student Union said.

“Not only is this behavior disrespectful and demeaning to Black students here at The College, but it is also dehumanizing and mocks the Americans who are victims of police brutality and those who are grieving the lives lost due to the blatant lack of respect towards Black bodies,” the Black Student Union said in a statement.

McConnell said the College’s Division of Student Affairs and Department of Public Safety are conducting “a full investigation.”

“If we determine that the institution’s student code of conduct or any other college policies have been violated, we will take appropriate action,” the president said. “That being said, federal privacy laws limit the amount of information that can be shared regarding our ongoing investigation and its ultimate outcome.”

McConnell urged students affected by “this incident or other hurtful experiences” to take advantage of several resources on campus, including the Office of Multicultural Student Programs and Services; the Office of Counseling and Substance Abuse Services; the Office of Institutional Diversity; and Residence Life staff.

Watch what you wear for Halloween, McConnell added.

“If you plan to celebrate it, I encourage you to think about your party themes and costume choices and the impression they may have on others,” he said. “If you have the slightest doubt if your costume/party theme is insensitive, be smart and don’t do it.”

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak