DUBUQUE, Iowa — More than 150 people gathered at the University of Dubuque to discuss how to respond after two students posted a photo of themselves in blackface on social media, sparking outrage at the school and surrounding communities.
The two-hour discussion Wednesday allowed students and faculty members to speak their minds, the Telegraph Herald reported. Some expressed hurt and called for the two women who created the post to face consequences. Others called for forgiveness and reconciliation.
The image featured the women, who are White, with dark clay or paint on their faces above the words, “celebrate black history.” Both students apologized at the event.
“I appreciate you guys hearing us out, and I appreciate your forgiveness, and I hope we can move forward,” said Taylor Allard.
The other student, Morgan, said she exercised poor judgment and she apologized for the effect her actions had on the community. Morgan and university officials declined to provide her last name.
“It’s never easy to talk about the things that go on in our culture and in our society,” said April Elsbernd, a university volleyball coach who teaches a worldview seminar course. “But sometimes these moments can teach us so many lessons, and it can be a way into having these tough conversations.”
The university’s Black Student Union president, Amonda Lawhorn, said just discussing the incident isn’t enough.
“We just know with stuff like this, yes, it is a learning experience. Yes, it is a time for us to learn and grow from it,” he said. “We also feel like something needs to be done.”
University officials said this week that they disapproved of the post and that they were working with the students to help them make better choices.