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Petition calls for explusion of Penn State student who posed with swastika

After photos of a Penn State student posing with a swastika drawn on her shoulder circulated on social media, a petition called on the university to expel her.

The photograph, which surfaced on Twitter earlier this week, shows three women posing, two of them with swastikas on their shoulders. The original poster identified one woman as Penn State student Ryan Milligan; the identity of the other is unknown.

“The reported anti-Semitic post is deeply disturbing and sickening. The Univ is contacting the individual alleged to be involved,” Penn State tweeted in response to the post.

As of Friday, a Change.org petition calling for Milligan’s expulsion had garnered over 40,000 signatures. The petition’s anonymous author argued that failing to discipline her would send a 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.”

In addition, another Penn State student has been accused of shouting racial slurs while driving by a May 31 protest against police violence. After a video of the incident circulated on social media, several people identified the man involved as a current student and the Penn State Black Caucus demanded that the university take action.

The university said in a May 31 tweet that officials were “aware of a disturbing video from a peaceful rally” and condemned “hateful speech and bigotry in all of its forms.”

However, in a June 2 statement released on Twitter, the university hinted at the limits of disciplinary action in either case. “A public university does not have the power to expel students over speech, no matter how morally reprehensible it might be,” the statement said.

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at [email protected].

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