Kansas State University expelled a student after she posted a photo to Snapchat that was found to be offensive and racist.
On Sept. 13, Paige Shoemaker shared a photo of herself and a friend, Sadie Meier, with black masks on their faces, according to media reports.
The photo caption read: “Feels good to finally be a n---a.”
An emoji of a face crying with laughter accompanied the caption.
The photo went viral, and one Twitter user outed Shoemaker as the person who shared the picture on Snapchat.
“Welcome to Kansas State University,” the user tweeted on Sept. 15 with a screenshot of the Shoemaker's photo. "Where breakfast in the morning is some K-State Family with a side of Racism."
The photo also made its way to Facebook, where Kansas State University was tagged, KSNT reports.
Kansas State University student Ron Smith contacted the school’s president, who asked that Smith send him the photo and his reaction to Shoemaker’s post.
Smith obliged, and the school opened an investigation. The university subsequently sent an email to students, faculty and staff alerting them of the situation.
“I have become aware that one of our students posted a racially offensive photo today on social media and used one of the most derogatory words in the English language,” vice president for Student Life and dean of Students Pat Bosco wrote on the university’s website. “This photo has students, faculty, staff and other members of the K-State family upset."
"It rightly should, as there is no place for racism at our university, regardless of what the intentions may have been," Bosco continued. "K-State prides itself on being one family, no matter your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or abilities. All members of the K-State family deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Shoemaker took to Facebook to apologize for the Snapchat and explain that her and Meier were not in “black face.”
“Sadie Meier and I want to formally apologize for the picture that has gone viral of us," she commented on KSU's Facebook page on Sept. 16. "We clearly understand that what was said and done was completely disrespectful. I did want to inform everyone that it was NOT 'black face,' but it was a L'Oréal clay facial mask."
Shoemaker further explained that the hand “signs” being “thrown” in the photo are an inside joke amongst their friends, meaning “West Coast is the best coast.”
“We never intended for the picture to offend anyone," her post continued. "We had only meant for it to be taken in a funny way, but we clearly understand that what we said should never be joked around about. People shouldn't joke around about such a serious topic like this because it feeds into racism.”
She acknowledges in the post that there will be people who do not forgive her for sharing the photo and caption, but says the incident has been a learning experience.
“Ask anyone who knows us, we are the most accepting and least racist people,” Shoemaker wrote. “We know that we will ride up and learn from this mistake. We will be better and make sure to do more than someone who is a true racist. We will battle everyone for the right to make things right,because we know what we did was wrong.”
Speaking with KSNT, Shoemaker explained why she used the derogatory word “n---a” in the Snapchat.
"I mean, not that this is a good thing but we kind of like, that word kind of happens in our friend group [because] we know that everyone is calm," she said. "We’re a big family so that word does not offend anyone in our group."
“We want people to know this is not blackface," she continued. "We did not paint our faces intentional."
The photo and caption did offend people, and Shoemaker is now facing the consequences: Kansas State University has expelled her.