Students at a major US state university are facing calls for expulsion after a photo was posted online showing them posing with swastikas drawn on their body.
The photo shows two students at Penn State University smiling with the symbol drawn on their shoulder.
The image was first shared on Twitter earlier this week, according to a petition calling for the students to be expelled.
At the time of writing, more than 57,000 people have signed the petition.
“This photo is terrifying and extremely threatening, and it is not to be taken lightly,” it reads.
Allowing the students to remain on campus “sends the message that antisemitic actions and ideals are accepted by the university, and that Penn State doesn’t care about protecting its Jewish students, as well as other oppressed and underrepresented minorities,” the anonymous petition claims.
The university – which has close to 100,000 students enrolled – has acknowledged the incident and said it was investigating.
In a tweet this week responding to the controversy, the university said: “The reported anti-Semitic post is deeply disturbing and sickening” and said it was contacting the individuals alleged to be involved.
The Penn State student involved reportedly did not respond to an email request for comment from university’s campus media outlet, The Daily Collegian.
On June 3, the university posted a statement saying it was unable to expel students over issues of free speech.
“Penn State will continue to stand in solidarity with our community and speak out against hateful speech.
“A public university does not have the power to expel students over speech, no matter how morally reprehensible it may be.
“But the university does have the power to condemn racism and address those who violate our values.”
The statement appears to have done little to quell the anger from students and others expressed online.
“Absolutely shameful. Her parents must be so proud of her and her friends,” one person wrote on Facebook.
It comes as protests have raged across the US over police brutality and racial tensions exploded following the death of African American man George Floyd in police custody.
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