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RIT condemns racist photos in decades-old yearbook

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Posted at 10:21 AM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 10:25:48-05

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WKBW) — Leaders at Rochester Institute of Technology are speaking out about racist yearbook photos published decades ago that they say may resurface in the coming weeks. The Facebook post made by the school comes following the scandal in Virginia where calls were made for the governor to step down after a racist photo was found on his medical school yearbook page.

RIT posted on its Facebook page, "It has come to our attention that both national and local media outlets soon will publish stories referencing racist yearbook photos from college campuses across the country. A photo, taken from a student-produced RIT yearbook from the late 1970s, may be included in the articles."

In a comment on the RIT post, one person added what appears to be one of the questionable photos. It shows a number of people dressed in white KKK robes, and another person in black face. One of the people in the photo is holding a noose. The school responded to the comment confirming that it was one of the photos in question, and that the president condemns it.

The initial RIT post went on to say that a number of offensive photos had been removed from online versions of the RIT yearbook, but that they remain in the hardcopy yearbooks. RIT President David Munson said in response to the photos, "“These highly offensive photos, which appeared in an old student publication, should have been completely unacceptable back then. Today we condemn them in the strongest possible terms. They do not represent our institutional values nor reflect our efforts to make RIT a more diverse and inclusive campus. We remain deeply committed to maintaining a safe and supportive environment with policies that promote dignity and respect for all individuals.”

The school will now hold a discussion on the photos and racial issues Friday, February 22nd from noon - 2 p.m. in the Allen Chapel. Students and leaders are all invited to attend.