Officials at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania are investigating a report that a college student dressed up as former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a second student pretended to threaten him with a gun.
Vice President and Dean of Student Life Joyce Bylander sent a campus-wide email confirming that she had received a photo of "a student dressed in an offensive Halloween costume stereotypically representing a person of color while another student pointed a gun at him."
"The costume and the image were deeply offensive and reflected the exercise of very poor judgment," she wrote, in part, according to the Post-Gazette.
Kaepernick made headlines last year when he protested police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. His protest sparked national debate, and inspired sports teams across the country to follow in his footsteps.
Bylander said that she will not be investigating the costume, but the gun. No guns -- real or fake -- are allowed on campus.
As for the costume itself, she said that the student had every right to express his freedom of speech.
"We must all understand that this action, however distasteful, is a form of free expression," she wrote in her letter. "However, their speech does not mean that we must sit idly by and accept their message."
"We must engage each other in conversations about how individual choices can have a negative impact on other community members. We must answer speech with speech."
Dickinson college students expressed their disbelief at the costume, calling it inappropriate and racist.
"I do think it is something we need to pay attention to and that, as a community, it would be our fault if we didn't assess where it came from and how we can make Dickinson a better and safer place because of it," freshman Danielle Paz told WPMT.
Freshman Carter Vaughn agreed, saying the costume reflects poorly on the campus: "It definitely doesn't belong on any college campus, that everyone is equal and should be treated equally, as such."
Similar costumes have popped up around the country and have caused similar controversy, according to the Philly Voice. An officer at the University of Nevada was seen in blackface wearing a Kaepernick shirt and a hooked nose. A man from South Dakota spurred anger after he was seen in blackface kneeling with a sign reading: "Will stand for money."
Blackface originated in the 1880s and is a type of theatrical makeup used by white performers to mock African-Americans.