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Stereotype-invoking social media post sparks condemnation, discussion on campus

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Freshman Tyra Rose Nibbs tweeted out screenshots just before 2 p.m. Feb. 7 depicting a box of pregnancy tests, a pack of cigarettes, a dollar bill, an empty plastic baggie and four condoms, which had been posted by another student. The photos, layered with Snapchat's Black History Month filter, went viral with Nibbs' tweet. IDS staff Buy Photos

The Snapchat post went up on Tuesday night, the sixth day of Black History Month, and by Wednesday afternoon, the photo had circulated around campus.

The post used a Black History Month-themed filter and featured a box of pregnancy tests, a pack of cigarettes, a dollar bill, an empty plastic baggie and four condoms. It made its way onto a GroupMe message used by black IU students. 

Then, it was posted on Twitter and went viral.

The student who tweeted the photo identified the person who posted it as IU freshman Hannah Huber. Freshman Tyra Rose Nibbs said she wanted to make the incident more public in hopes of demonstrating what black and other minority students experience on a day-to-day basis. 

It felt like the issues black students at IU faced were overlooked, Nibbs said. She wanted to create a more public dialogue. 

Nibbs said she was not certain who had taken the original screenshot, but her goal was not to just vilify the student who posted the photo. 

“I would never really attack somebody,” Nibbs said. “But that’s why I felt like this story should be heard, because this is just one example of incidents that black students and minority students on this campus face.”

By Wednesday night, Huber had deleted her social media accounts. She has not responded to multiple emails seeking a comment.

After the Twitter post went viral, receiving over a thousand retweets and even more likes, IU’s official account replied asking people to submit the photo through the formal bias incident reporting system

A meeting of students, administrators and faculty was called at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on Wednesday night in response to student concerns about the post. Nibbs said the conversation did not just focus on the single post, but also the broader issues she felt were put on display by it. 

“I was appreciative of the way the meeting was led and the respect and honesty and sincerity of the feedback that was shared by the students in attendance,” said Vice Provost for Student Affairs Lori Reesor, who attended the meeting. “I thought my colleagues and I were there to listen and to honor and respect their feelings and experience.”

Reesor said Thursday the procedure for bias incident reporting would determine whether a violation of the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, & Conduct occurred, and if so, appropriate sanctions would be delivered.

The photo received condemnation from the IU Student Association and Residence Hall Association, two of the student governance bodies on campus.

Nibbs said the discussion felt productive, but she would know whether there would be actual action taken in coming weeks. She said administrators wanted feedback from those who felt affected.  

“I feel like a lot of people try to dismiss, or try to cover for people, and say, ‘Oh, they’re sorry,’” Nibbs said. “But I feel like in this day and age we all like to boast about how we’re adults, and how we are able to make decisions on ourselves.”

Looking at this action specifically, Nibbs said, people can see the stereotyping items were pinned to the wall in the photo intentionally. It was not a random scene captured in passing. 

“I think it’s important to remember that Indiana University has strong values of diversity, inclusion and respect,” Reesor said. “And the social media display that was shown yesterday does not honor those values of our institution. And that’s not OK.”

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