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penn state students swastikas

University condemns tweet by student who posted picture of herself and friends with swastikas drawn on their shoulders; over 25,000 sign petition demanding disciplinary action.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Penn State University issued a strongly worded condemnation after a Penn student posted a picture of herself and friends on Twitter with two of them sporting large Nazi swastikas drawn on their shoulders.

“The University shares the outrage expressed on social media. We are disgusted by the behavior portrayed, which does not reflect our values. It is deeply troubling that as a society, we today are still facing racism,” Penn State said in a statement on its Twitter account. “The University condemns these messages, and staff are verifying individuals and reaching out to those in question.”

The independent campus news website Onward State identified one of the women in the picture as a Penn student named Ryann Milligan. The site said it was unclear when the photo was taken and if the other women depicted are also students at the university.

As of Thursday, more that 25,000 people had signed an online petition demanding that the university take disciplinary action against Milligan “for her horrific act of anti-Semitism.”

“This photo is terrifying and extremely threatening, and it is not to be taken lightly,” the petition says. “Allowing her [Milligan] to remain a student of Penn State is a disservice to all Jewish people, living or dead. It sends the message that anti-Semitic 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.”

Despite the tens of thousands of signatures, the university said that while it stood by its community and condemned hate speech, it was not going to suspend Milligan.

“A public university does not have the power to expel students over speech, no matter how morally reprehensible it may be,” Penn State said in a tweet.

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