University review of racist photo not over, Sparks says

Posted on Jul 29 2019 - 8:55pm by Daniel Payne

The university’s process of reviewing an Instagram post of students standing with guns in front of a bullet-riddled Emmett Till memorial is not over, according to a statement Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks released on Monday night.

“Given that we first learned about this incident in March, the university launched an internal review last week of our handling of the incident report about the photo, and we discovered a breakdown in communications between units on our campus,” Sparks said in the statement.

On March 6, the university’s Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) notified the University Police Department, the Dean of Students, the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct and Fraternal Leadership & Learning of the post, Sparks said. UPD sent the allegations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Photo credit: Instagram

On March 20, BIRT requested an update from UPD on the status of the FBI inquiry. It was not until April 2 that the FBI responded to UPD, saying the photo did not represent a specific threat.

“Because of a lapse in communication, several units on campus did not learn from UPD about the FBI’s decision,” Sparks’s statement said. “In addition, BIRT did not confirm the final status of the referral to the FBI. At this time, the BIRT process has not concluded.”

Sparks said that university staff members involved in the investigation “demonstrated an ongoing commitment to deal with this matter seriously,” and that the university is continuing its review of its process to govern racist student behavior in the future.

This developing story will be updated as new information is available.