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More Than 12,000 Sign Petition Requesting Discipline For ‘Racist’ Penn State Student

Update, June 2, 8:45 p.m.: Penn State released a short statement Tuesday night acknowledging it can’t expel students over speech no matter how “morally reprehensible” it may be.

“Penn State will continue to stand in solidarity with our community and to speak out against hateful speech,” the university wrote. “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 Change.org petition calling on Penn State to take action against a student’s alleged racist remarks has now accumulated nearly 16,500 signatures.

Original Story: More than 12,000 people have signed a Change.org petition requesting Penn State to take disciplinary action against a student who was recorded allegedly using hate speech and racial slurs over the weekend.

“These actions are in direct violation of the Honor Code. The disgusting display of blatant racism should not be tolerated by anyone, especially the university,” the anonymous petition organizer wrote. “This is not what Penn State stands for, and if you are outraged by the presence of a racist on campus, and believe black lives matter, please sign and support for a more peaceful academic future…There is no place for hate at state.”

On Sunday, videos featuring an alleged student, identified by Twitter users as Sean Setnick, surfaced on Twitter. In them, he allegedly used racial slurs, including the N-word, and referenced the Ku Klux Klan at a rally in Aston, Pennsylvania.

Shortly after, Penn State released a short statement denouncing what appeared to be a similar event but didn’t specifically reference the viral video clips.

Monday night, Onward State received the following statement from Setnick:

The videos and images falsely depicted me in using racial slurs against peaceful protestors in my home town. I was in the passenger seat with an American flag, and said nothing racist nor derogatory toward any individual. Some of the people at the protest were friends I graduated high school with, in which I would never disown in such horrible ways. Please look at all the facts before assuming anything. The one in which did use these derogatory terms was the driver of the Jeep.

Penn State hasn’t commented on taking any potential disciplinary action at this time. Under federal law, student discipline matters and educational records are considered confidential.

We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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