Photo of UC student with rope around neck, under investigation

Officials with Utica College are investigating an incident that happened Friday night during a school sponsored event.

Posted: Apr 27, 2019 8:18 PM
Updated: Apr 27, 2019 9:29 PM

UTICA- Officials with Utica College are investigating an incident that happened Friday night during a school sponsored event.

The college said a disturbing photo involving three Utica College students, has been circulating on social media. The image shows a student with a rope around the neck.

College officials say, the event took place in the Strebel Student Center lounge where there were several stations set up. One of the stations had an activity where students could throw lassoes around the head of a fake steer. The college confirmed the rope pictured around the students neck is from one of those lassoes.

The three students have been removed from campus and will remain off campus until the investigation is complete.

The college has asked NEWSChannel 2 to blur out the students face to protect the student's identity.

Here is the full response from President Laura Casamento:

Dear Members of the College Community:

I know many people have questions about what transpired last evening and what
happened to the students who were involved in the posting of a disturbing image
on social media. Federal privacy laws prevent us from disclosing certain
specific information that people are seeking.

However, here's what I can share with you:

The incident that led to the posting took place during a student-sponsored event
in the Strebel Student Center lounge. The event featured a number of activities,
one of which was a station at which students threw lassoes around the head of a
fake steer. The rope pictured in the image was fashioned from one of those
lassoes.

As a preliminary action, the three students involved have been removed from
campus and will remain off campus pending the outcome of an investigation and
the College's conduct process. We have also provided facts surrounding the
incident to law enforcement.

Subsequent postings to social media have threatened the student in the image.
These, too, will be investigated as possible violations of College policies and
will be provided to law enforcement.

The image, no matter what the intent, is offensive, threatening, hurtful, and
potentially unlawful. As I've stated repeatedly, this College has zero tolerance
for such behavior, and the actions that we take will be swift and resolute.

In addition, while I understand that incidents such as this one provoke
emotional reactions, I am troubled by the subsequent social media postings. As
appalling as the original image is, the subsequent postings threatening violence
against a member of the College community are also appalling. I strongly
encourage those who are responsible for posting threatening language to remove
the postings immediately, as the actions that we will take against them will
also be swift and resolute.

I will be meeting with the leaders of several student organizations and
enlisting their support as we discuss the steps that we need to take to address
what has happened.

In the meantime, in keeping with the College's due process obligations, the
students involved in the incident will have an opportunity to tell their side of
the story. However, regardless of intent, I will not lose sight of the fact that
the image carried not only very real, very strong connotations of racism and
intimidation but also implications for those who have faced mental health
challenges, and this has had a profoundly painful and damaging impact on our
College community. Such incidents undermine our principles and the hard work
that we do, day in and day out, to uphold those principles.

Laura Casamento
President

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