By: Krystle Crossman
A Kansas State University student has learned the hard way that Snapchat photos can ruin your chances at the degree that you are going after. Paige Shoemaker was having fun with a college friend in their dorm while wearing spa masks. The spa masks were dark in color and they decided to take a selfie on Snapchat with the tag line, “feels good to finally be a ni**a” while making gang signs with their hands. Unfortunately for Shoemaker, one of her classmates decided that the photo should be posted on Twitter. He made a screenshot and posted it with the caption, “Welcome to Kansas State University. Where breakfast in the morning is some K-State Family with a side of racism” and suddenly the photo went viral.
The outcry from the public was enough to catch the attention of the university. They took prompt action against Shoemaker. She put an apology on Facebook however this was not enough for the public. Shoemaker claimed that they understood that they were being disrespectful in the photo and that the signs that they were making with their hands were to represent a joke with their friends about the West Coast being the best. She stated that they were wearing clay masks and were not trying to purposely have “blackface” on. Her post was shared over 1,300 times however it was not well-received. Many thought that she did it to try and cover herself and her friend so that they wouldn’t get in trouble. They did not believe that she was being sincere.
The university issued a formal statement about the viral photo. They stated that they had received hundreds of messages and calls about the photo and that it was not what the university stood for or tolerated. They assured the public in the message that Shoemaker was no longer enrolled in the school and the young woman she was with was never a student there. The official stated that Kansas State University takes pride in their tolerance and diversity and would not stand for anything that went against those principles. They offered to speak with anyone that had been personally affected by the incident to make sure that everyone felt like their concerns were being heard.
After over 14,000 shares the photo has become a widespread topic of discussion. Some people thought that they were taking the post a little too seriously. Others said that it wasn’t being taken seriously enough. Shoemaker’s former sorority also put out a statement and made it clear that she was no longer a part of the sorority either. Shoemaker said that she would have been a senior this year and that her use of the word “ni**a” was not uncommon in her group of friends.