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UW-Oshkosh investigating pictures with hateful messages

Posted at 5:12 PM, Apr 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-26 19:18:20-04

OSHKOSH — University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh officials confirmed there is an ongoing investigation after hateful images involving students circulated on social media.

One image showed people standing in front of a flag with a swastika. The other image showed a white board that said No liberals, Jews, Muslims, Queers, or Hmongs. School officials said the pictures were from a private residence.

"This is disgusting," Edward Kindlarski, a junior at UW-Oshkosh said. "I can’t see how someone knowingly has this in their home or wants other people to know that they have that."

"When I see those pictures I actually feel attacked," sophomore Selena Yang said. "I feel very shaky."

Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said they learned about the situation overnight. He hosted an open forum on campus drawing hundreds of people.

He started the forum by telling the crowd anyone who brings hate to the UW-Oshkosh community is invited to leave. The crowd erupted with applause.

In an interview before the event, Leavitt said they cannot discipline someone for exercising free speech. They would have to break a policy or law. However, he said they are condemning the hateful messages.

"If you’re going to be a part of the UW-Oshkosh community, we want to make sure that you’re exercising an appropriate right to speak in the sense that you’re not denigrating people because of personal identity," Leavitt said.

Allison Keegstra said she was invited to the house by someone who was upset with the displays.

"I was angry," Keegstra said. "I was in pure disbelief honestly so yeah I took the pictures."

Despite critics, Keegstra said she stands by her actions.

Students at the forum expressed frustration during the forum and said talking about the issues is not enough.

"I want administration to work more closely with the multicultural groups we have on campus as well as the LGBTQ community," Kindlarkski said.

"We should accept others for who they are," Yang said. "I feel like just more education and more advocacy will help us."

One of the people mentioned in the original social media post told TODAY'S TMJ4 that they had nothing to do with what was written on the board.

University officials admitted they had a similar incident about a month ago, and they have worked with the local community on a plan to move forward.