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Latest Update on Racist Messages Directed to Penn Students

from

Amy Gutmann, President

Vincent Price, Provost and Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President

November 15, 2016

We write to provide you with the latest information on the investigation into racist messages sent to Penn students.

One question that many have asked is how the contact information for some of our students was obtained. The investigation has determined that there was no compromise of the Penn directory or any campus data systems. It appears that the overlap between the alleged perpetrators and our students was through third-party social media applications (Facebook and GroupMe).

We have learned that one of the individuals being investigated in Oklahoma had been offered admission to Penn, accepted the offer in May, but chose, ultimately, not to attend. Having accepted Penn’s admission offer, he was invited to join and access the private Facebook group created for the Class of 2020, which is a common practice among many colleges and universities. Utilizing this access, he obtained the contact information of some Black first-year students who had shared their information with the Facebook group. He added those individual students to the racist GroupMe message thread without their permission or knowledge.

We are working to prevent this type of access in the future, and Penn Police are continuing to work with the FBI and their counterparts in Oklahoma to bring the investigation to completion. In one other development, the University of Oklahoma announced today that a student identified as being involved in the incident is no longer enrolled at that university.

We continue to support all affected students and underscore our outrage at such reprehensible behavior, whether it originates within or outside our campus. We must unite as a community to heal, reach out, support and understand one another in such challenging times.

We will update you when we have any further information. 

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