Utica College President Laura Casamento has released a statement addressing controversial images posted on social media.

Casamento took to the Utica College Facebook page to release a statement regarding an incident involving Utica College students posing for two separate "racist" photos.

Casamento says images posted on a Snapchat account neither administered or authorized by Utica College appeared to portray a racist situation in which two white students are seated at a UC dining area with a sign that read "Whites only. We're Privileged."

In the second photo, two students of color are seated at a table with a sign that read "Black People Section." The college was able to identify the students and brought them in for questioning. It was later determined to be an elaborate joke and the students have since apologized.

In the statement released by Casamento, a specific apology was issued by the students involved. Their apology reads,

We, (names have been removed to protect the students), would like to sincerely apologize for the distress that we have caused any of you in regards to the pictures that one of us posted on Snapchat earlier this morning. It was posted out of context without any explanation as to the circumstances that it was posted under.

It was not any sort of historical reference nor was it an insult to any group or individual students within the UC community. The four of us depicted in the photos were all sitting together, and we began asking questions to one of our friends whom began to become annoyed. We then asked if it was 'because we were black' in a joking manner. The signs were created as to elaborate the joke even further, to make it more amusing to ourselves.

We both agree completely that diversity is of utmost importance at UC and that UC does an outstanding job to lead an initiative to make everyone here feel welcomed. This is something that you may find absent on other college campuses and Utica is unique for this very reason. Unfortunately, it was a joke that was made between a few of us eating breakfast in the dining commons and we can assure that no one involved was offended in any way, as well we had no intention of offending anyone. We again express our apologies for any offense taken in light of this situation, and we support wholeheartedly, and are thankful for the diversity initiative here at Utica College.

Casamento says that although the photos were not motivated by racism, it is a serious matter that could have a negative impact on the College's reputation. Another concern is the possibility of retaliation or the encouragement of anger. Casamento goes on to say in her statement,

This incident provides an opportune time to remind members of the College community that irresponsible social media behavior, no matter what the intent, can have far reaching and even dangerous consequences. I would also remind members of the College community that the College has initiated a number of programs and campus conversations designed to promote dialogue about issues of diversity and inclusiveness.

She concluded by thanking those who were deeply concerned over these photos who brought this situation to her attention.

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