Students at Iowa State University were aghast earlier this week after one student spotted a truck on campus with the words "White Power" written on the back of it. Turns out though, the owner of the truck was nothing more than a victim of vandalism.
Still, that didn't stop students from spreading a picture of the truck and quickly drawing conclusions.
One student, Nick Thuot — whose Facebook page is dominated by criticisms of "white privilege" — was quick to post a picture of the truck to his social media page, claiming that "racism is still rampant in this community and in our country."
ISU's campus Latino organization, Latinos Unidos for Change, also posted the picture to social media with the caption, "Today in #racism and ignorance":
Today in #racism and ignorance in @IowaStateU this was posted around noon. #blackoncampus https://t.co/x7MK0jIZ6M— LUCHA (@LUCHA) 1460404247.0
In fact, Thuot was so concerned about the truck that he phoned campus police. He later commented on his original Facebook post saying that campus police informed him "they would send an officer over to investigate."
"I'm realizing that I should not have utilized a system that has historically and contemporarily let people of color down to hold the individual accountable," he added. "I messed up and I'm owning that."
However, not everyone was buying into the idea of a blatant racist running around campus. One student, Evan Slabaugh, replied to Thuot's Facebook post cautioning fellow students from jumping to conclusions without gathering the facts. He said:
"I understand the intensity this situation instilled in a lot of the student body, but the nature of the writing here seems a bit... hasty. I can't help but wonder if this is a case involving "planted" evidence. Maybe an activist of some sort just wanted to put fuel on the fire? I feel like if somebody REALLY wanted to put "white power" on their tailgate that they would do so in a much more tasteful font/medium. Or a more likely situation: some drunk college kids wrote this on their friends truck during a party as a practical joke (a tasteless one at that) and s/he drove the truck to campus, none the wiser."
Tyler Stapler, another student, replied to Thuot's Facebook post asking the "lynch mob" to disperse because according to him, the writing was nothing more than an obvious prank.
In a huge bout of irony, the truck's owner, Derek Jensen, told the College Fix that he didn't learn about his truck — and the problems it was causing — until a high school friend tagged him in Thuot's Facebook photo.
Fortunately, Jensen was able to easily clean the back of his truck. He told the College Fix that he has filed a police report and plans to press charges against whoever is guilty of the graffiti.
"It’s just irritating when people are messing with stuff they shouldn’t be messing with," he told the college news outlet.
Thankfully for Jensen, he is not a suspect in the case, according to Iowa State University campus police, who exonerated Jensen in a tweet on Tuesday.
@LWesleyHarrisJr @MaBeCraze @IASTATE_Pres This criminal mischief case is under investigation. The truck owner is not a suspect.— Iowa State University Police Department (@Iowa State University Police Department) 1460497140.0
(H/T: The College Fix)
Follow the author of this story on Twitter and Facebook: