"Racially insensitive" costumes allegedly involving CofC students cause social media stir

The photos above appeared on several social media accounts Monday, with those posting and commenting making connections to the private schools in Baltimore and the College of Charleston.

(This story has been updated with a response from College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell)
Photos published on social media of "racially insensitive" Halloween costumes have caused a stir from Baltimore to Charleston.

Three private schools in Baltimore have responded to the photos administrators say show students wearing what's described as insensitive costumes with "highly inappropriate captions."

While the schools confirm those in photos are students of at least two of the Baltimore schools, they argue the person responsible for posting and/or captions is not a current student on their campuses.

Posts on social media make a connection to College of Charleston, and that connection was enough that the African American Studies Department of CofC released statements on Facebook addressing the issue.

"The African American Studies Program at the College of Charleston stands in solidarity with the Black Student Union and other student organizations to insist that the administration take immediate action against the students involved in any and all acts that aim to intimidate and make mockery of the students, faculty, and staff of color on this campus," one statement read in part.

College of Charleston president Glenn McConnell confirmed Monday in a prepared statement the incident involved "one or more members of our campus community."

"This whole situation is very painful to many people, and I am extremely disappointed that something like this is connected to our university, "McConnell says. "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 says CofC officials were made aware of the "racially insensitive" social media posts over the weekend, and the College’s Division of Student Affairs and the Department of Public Safety are conducting a full investigation.

"Racism and intolerance of any kind have no place on our campus – and in our world," McConnell said.

As for what the investigation may uncover, and what subsequent disciplinary action the college may take, McConnell says "appropriate action" will be taken if it's determined the college's student code of conduct or any other college policies have been violated.

"With Halloween taking place tomorrow, 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," McConnell says. "If you have the slightest doubt if your costume/party theme is insensitive, be smart and don’t do it."

Below is a joint statement from administrators at Gilman School and Roland Park Country School in Baltimore:

"We recently learned of a set of photos, one of which includes a Gilman School student and Roland Park Country School student, that contain highly inappropriate captions, and that are spreading fast through social media. As we quickly try to learn the facts, here is what we know:
- The two photographs were taken at different functions and combined together in one social media post.
- The young man shown in the picture with the young lady, is not the same young man who is seen in the single photo bearing the name “Freddie Gray” on his outfit.
- The persons who wrote the captions seen in the pictures are not students at either one of our schools.
- The young man who took the photo of the two minors is not a student at either one of our schools.
- The young man who combined the two photos and posted them on social media is not a student at either one of our schools. Know that we take any situation involving our students seriously, and this is no exception. Please understand that many involved in this situation are minors and we respectfully remind you of this as we work through the details."

Boys Latin in Baltimore sent out an email to alumni and families that reads:

"Over the weekend, Boys' Latin was identified in connection with a series of images on social media that contained inflammatory language and depicted individuals in costumes, wearing clothing that inmates that worn by inmates in prison. One of these individuals had the name 'Freddie Gray' displayed across his back and was identified as a BL alumnus.
I am deeply troubled that an individual would choose to act in this way, and I am so sorry for any hurt or pain that these actions have caused. Boys' Latin denounces the insensitivity and intolerance depicted by these images. In no way, shape or form will Boys' Latin support or tolerate actions or behaviors that demean or belittle another person, a group of individuals, or the suffering that one may endure.
This morning, I have met both with our students and with our faculty to address these images. This event reminds us of the importance of our commitment to equality and respect and of the need to lead our students to embrace these values. For now, please know that we will continue to lean into important equity, diversity, and inclusivity conversations, to deepen understanding and help our students and community live out our values. Our work around these matters requires consistency and is never complete.
Thank you for your continued support and partnership."

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