Charles Sturt University has confirmed the students who threw a “politically incorrect” themed party at the Black Swan Hotel on Friday last week are currently enrolled at their Wagga Wagga campus.
Photos were posted on social media accounts showing party members dressed as Ku Klux Klan members and in full body 'blackface' as an African-American slave. There was also an image circulated of people dressed as Nazi soldiers with Jewish prisoners.
Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann said in a statement, “the University has identified all students in both images distributed last Friday following an event at the Black Swan in Wagga Wagga”.
The university confirmed the people seen in the images are currently enrolled, and said it is undertaking an investigation in line with their Student General Misconduct Rule.
According to the policy, the rule applies to misconduct by students while they are on any of the campuses of the university, or involved in any university activity where such conduct is not covered by the University's Academic Misconduct Rule.
“We are working to conclude this investigation to provide an outcome for both the students involved, the members of the public and our communities looking for an update,” Professor Vann said.
“We recognise and have heard the distress these images have caused, particularly to the Indigenous and Jewish communities. We have spoken with leaders from these communities in recent days.”
Proud Wiradjuri man and local of Wagga Wagga, Joe Williams told NITV News that “anything other than expulsion isn’t taking the matter serious enough”.
“If people say that expulsion of these students is over the top, well I say to them that racism is over the top and unacceptable,” he said.
Mr Williams also questioned Charles Sturt University’s attempt to engage local Indigenous leaders for their guidance on the issue.
“It was also said that CSU had a consultation with local Aboriginal Elders, I know for certain one very prominent senior Wiradjuri elder made several attempts to contact CSU, without any returned phone calls - that’s concerning."
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff told NITV News the students had crossed a line between being provocative and humorous and that they needed to become more politically and culturally aware.
“They identified three of the most horrendous chapters of history, each of which led to the persecution and murder of vast numbers in the name of bigotry and race hatred, and made fun of them,” he said.
“In so doing they undermined the enormity of these crimes against humanity, and by posting their grotesque charades on social media turned them into a public issue.
“Either they were unaware of the magnitude of the crimes they were mocking, or they were aware but didn’t care.”
Charles Sturt University said it has a strong stance against racism as outlined in their Anti-Racism Policy.
“It simply will not be tolerated and I want to apologise to any people who have been upset or hurt by this matter,” Professor Vann concluded.
A date for the conclusion of the investigation hasn’t been given but CSU said it would hopefully be soon.