According to a statement from the school, administrators were made aware of the incident prior to the school's spring break from March 22 to April 1.
The photo, which has made the rounds on several social media platforms, shows five students with their face painted black. Labels added to the image include the words, "Wakanda," "Walla Walla University" and "#prettyhurts."
— jocelyn 🗣 (@neosoulchild) March 26, 2018
Critics have suggested that the hashtag could be connected with Beyonce's 2013 hit "Pretty Hurts," which discusses self empowerment and body image issues. Wakanda is a reference to a fictional nation that Black Panther, a Marvel Universe character, calls home.
The university's Monday statement revealed that the "anti-black, racist social media post" involved six of its students.
"As soon as we became aware of the post a special task force was formed and met with five of the students involved, and the administration alerted our campus family to the investigation. Our Office of Diversity and Student Life Office are working closely together throughout this process, which is still ongoing," the statement read. "Demeaning others is reprehensible, and this social media post is unacceptable behavior. We at Walla Walla University are thoroughly committed to uncovering the motivations for such behavior and disciplining the involved students accordingly."
Though the investigation is still ongoing, administrators stated on Wednesday that once students return from break a listening session will be held. It's unclear what disciplinary measures will be dealt to the offending students.
The university, which is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has roughly 1,700 students enrolled. Sixty-nine percent of students are white, while just over 3 percent are African-American, according to reports.