By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Earlier this week, a racially charged image circulated around Marquette University’s campus. The picture was a screenshot of a Snapchat photo that featured four males, two of them holding plastic toy guns and one holding a black baby doll. With the word, “Chuuch” typed across the gun in the forefront, the Snapchat made its way around campus Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Marquette released two statements from university leaders. The first was an initial statement followed by an update directed at the campus community. The letter was signed by President Michael Lovell, Provost Daniel Myers, Vice President of Student Affairs Xavier Cole and Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion William Welburn.
“This is not who we aim to be. As a Catholic, Jesuit institution, we must make every effort to ensure that every member of our community feels welcome,” the statement read.
According to the statements, a Marquette student received the image in addition to several others earlier in the week and reported it to Marquette University Police Department (MUPD). Through some quick investigating, the MUPD successfully identified one of the individuals and interviewed them.
Chris Jenkin, Associate Director of University Communication wrote in an email, “The university has launched a conduct review process, the details of which must remain confidential because of federal laws that protect the privacy of students.”
As one of the major and well-known urban universities in Milwaukee, this past fall, the campus boasted an undergraduate class of 8,335, as reported by the campus’s Office of Institutional Research and Analysis through their composition dashboard. The annual report, which was released in November 2017, also included the percentage of people of color compared to whites and the ratio of females to males.
Of that aforementioned amount, 69.1% of the current undergraduate class is white, 26.3% of students identify as persons of color, 3.5% are international students and 1.0% is unknown. Within that 26.3%, 11 students identify as American Indian, 555 as Asian, 325 as Black and 1,002 as Hispanic. That’s not to mention the students who identify as multi-racial, who were also included in the report.
The statement also said, “As this process unfolds, we once again want to make it clear that incidents such as this are completely unacceptable.” And “As educators, we have an obligation to our students and our community to denounce racism and bigotry, and seek justice. Incidents such as this are a reminder that we must remain vigilant in these efforts.”
The image caused tensions to run high on campus as students and alumni expressed their fear and anger towards the photo. As the screenshot made its way through the news cycle and other social media platforms, a few began making their own investigation into the issue. As a result, two of the individuals in the photo have been identified as sophomores and named, although this has not yet been confirmed or denied by the MUPD.
Additionally, comments made on Facebook suggested that “Chucch” and the image itself were a reference to the rapper Slim Thug and his song, “Chuuch.”
With the investigation still ongoing, students were asked to come forward with any information they might have. Furthermore, university leaders asked that should an incident like this occur again, to please “speak out” by calling the MUPD or filing a bias incident report.
More information and further updates can be found at https://today.marquette.edu.