A number of black freshman and other people affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania were added to GroupMe chat rooms in which anonymous posters published racist messages and graphic images.
The group, called “Mud Men” by its creator, included an event titled “Daily lynching,” racial slurs and images of lynchings, according to Philadelphia Magazine. A statement from the university said the group appeared to be based in Oklahoma.
Another seemingly related chat room to which a number of black students were added, according to the student-run Daily Pennsylvanian, was called “Trump is love” and included images of lynchings, racist messages and a picture of a red hat which read “GRAB THEM BY THE P***Y.”
Students at the university gathered in the vice provost of university life’s office to discuss the attack and voice concerns about a surge in hate speech over the past week, according to the same report.
“I spent my morning running to the Vice Provost office of my university in the middle of class because my freshmen brothers and sisters got added to a group called ‘Nigger Lynching,’” wrote law student Calvary Rogers on Facebook, according to Metro Philly. “Literally, every single black freshmen was added. I stared an administrator in the eye and literally lost it. And quite honestly I just can’t stop crying. I feel sick to my stomach. I don’t feel safe.”
In a post on its Twitter account, the university acknowledged the cyberattack and said its security teams were working on cutting off the messages.
A statement from Penn on the current events on campus. pic.twitter.com/CALK7OERup
— Penn (@Penn) November 11, 2016
A statement on its website said called the contents of the GroupMe chat “absolutely vile material and completely offensive to everyone on our campus.”
“We are both angry and saddened that it was directed to our students or to anyone. The people responsible for this are reprehensible,” the statement continued. “We have increased campus safety and are reaching out to support the affected students in every way we can, and want them to know that the entire Penn community stands with them.”
Professors, administrators, and students across the university condemned the attack, as did the Mayor of Philadelphia, who called the messages “heartbreaking” and urged the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to investigate what he called “disgusting behavior,” according to CBS Philly.