A student at the University of Central Arkansas has been under a lot of scrutiny after a photo of him dressed as Bill Cosby surfaced.
The photo, posted on Instagram during a Halloween party Friday, shows student Brock Denton wearing a multi-colored sweater and blackface with a caption that read, "it was a bold night," standing beside other Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity members. According to multiple news sources, the party was at the fraternity house at UCA.
The Sigma Tau Gamma Headquarters condemned the photo in a news release and said the type of behavior exhibited by the members will not be tolerated and "requires swift and immediate action."
Steve Latour, the fraternity’s chief of staff, held an emergency call with the fraternity’s board of directors on Saturday and asked that the student be expelled from the fraternity and the board agreed. The student has been notified.
The UCA Sigma Chapter was also suspended.
"We have a duty and responsibility to practice the principles we espouse to uphold and act in a responsible manner in all of the behaviors we exhibit as members of the fraternity," Latour said. "I would like to thank the UCA students and the Students for the Propagation of Black Culture (SPBC) that brought this incident to our attention."
Headquarters are working with the university to investigate the issue.
UCA President Tom Courtway released a statement Saturday.
"This picture is highly offensive and repugnant and this representation goes against all we, at UCA believe in and stand for," Courtway said. "This institution embraces all races, cultures and nationalities. We strive each day to be welcoming, inclusive and diverse, and will always continue to do so."
Courtway said the matter would be investigated by "appropriate university offices."
"We can assure the UCA family and all others that it will [be] dealt with accordingly," he said.
The UCA fraternity released a statement on the matter Saturday apologizing for the "inexcusable actions" that occurred.
The released stated that Denton attended a Halloween costume event as Bill Cosby with blackface, but after arriving, was asked by a chapter officer to wash his face. The photo was evidently posted before he was asked to remove the paint, which he complied with.
"Our chapter will not tolerate these actions as do they not align with our core principles and values, nor do they align with the university’s principles or values," the release stated.
Members of the fraternity said they agreed with decisions made by headquarters and the university, and plans to comply with all requests throughout its investigation.
"In addition to the chapter’s public apology, the chapter and students involved in this incident acknowledge the harm that was caused and recognize that a sincere and quick resolution allows the healing process to begin for the entire university community."
University students and organizations have taken to social media to share concerns about the incident.
The UCA SPBC, a nonprofit organization at the university focused on spreading black culture, tweeted "on behalf of the black student population, [the photo] is not acceptable and is highly offensive."
The Student Government Association at UCA also took to Twitter to express its alarm.
"SGA does not condone this type of highly offensive and inappropriate behavior and is actively advocating on behalf of all UCA students," the tweet read.
According to multiple news sources, Denton posted an apology on Instagram for his choices and said that he’s been receiving death threats.
UCA Associate Vice President for Communications Christina Madsen said as of press time Monday, no report had been filed with the university police department.
News outlets all over Arkansas have reported on the incident, which has also started circulating on a national level with articles published in the Washington Post, New York Daily News, New York’s PIX 11 and more.
Madsen said Denton is still a student at the university.
(Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)