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NCSU Student Senate passes modifed bill as graffiti response

Posted November 19, 2008
Updated November 20, 2008

— The North Carolina State University Student Senate passed the Free Expression Tunnel Response Act on Wednesday night. The resolution was in response to racist graffiti found two weeks ago after Barack Obama's election victory.

The bill was amended from its original form. In the draft presented last week, expulsion had been included in the suggested punishments.

Instead, the bill would require that offenders be punished to the full extent of university policies and undergo education about the value of diversity. It also urges the university to modify its Unlawful Harassment Policy to address actions or words that "incite violence or otherwise create a hostile campus environment toward individuals or university protected groups."

“We didn’t want to necessarily specify one action for the university to take because there [are] a lot of different feelings of students on this campus,” Kelli Rogers, with the Student Senate, said of the amended bill.

Some students were not satisfied with the amended bill. More than 600 people had signed a petition asking that the students responsible for the racist graffiti be expelled from the university.

"I think these kinds of ideals are instilled with them at birth, so I don’t think a month of diversity class is going to make that much of a difference or prevent these types of actions in the future,” student Morgan Heath said.

The vote came the same day as a student who admitted to painting the racial slurs issued a public apology through Chancellor James Oblinger's office.

"I am aware that racial differences were brought into play by my words, but I want to ensure the university that no physical harm was intended. My intentions were simply to express my views on the outcome of the election, but went too far. I am very sorry for my actions and for the anger and fear brought to N.C. State. I am also ashamed of the bad light spread on this prestigious university. In addition to my apology, I want to assure the campus that there is no threat to anyone's safety," he said.

Two of the messages spray-painted in the Free Expression Tunnel said: "Let's shoot that (N-word) in the head" and "Hang Obama by a noose." The graffiti appeared Nov. 5 after Obama won the presidential election.

"There have been many discussions across campus since our Nov. 5 discovery of racist and hate-filled messages at the Free Expression Tunnel. As I said in my first statement on this issue, as chancellor and as a private citizen, I denounce these shameful acts," Oblinger said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The four students responsible for the racist graffiti were not charged with a crime, and the university has not released their names.

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  • mntineer Nov 20, 2008

    The Student Senate bill mentions "University protected groups". I'm curious to know who NCSU considers "protected"? Anyone have an idea about this?

  • mntineer Nov 20, 2008

    The bill mentions "University protected groups"... I'm curious to know who NCSU considers "protected"?

  • twc Nov 20, 2008

    kimmyrn6, that's just plain hateful! They gone get you for that!!

  • twc Nov 20, 2008

    southern wisdom, they painted it Carolina blue? Now, that calls for expulsion!!

    What if you paint over someone else's expression? Is that a crime?

    It looks as if the university may have to put up a disclaimer in the tunnel.

    Note to State students: tunnel walls are not the only walls that can hold expressions.

  • southern wisdom Nov 20, 2008

    As you all may or may not know, Tuesday night some students from a neighboring school painted the entire tunnel "Carolina Blue". As a NCSU graduate this appears like someone is trying to "incite violence or otherwise create a hostile campus environment toward individuals or university protected groups." Therefore all UNC students should be expelled.

  • purplepat777 Nov 20, 2008

    I guess the "Free Expression Tunnel" will need to be renamed as the freedom of expression guaranteed to every U.S. citizen by our constitution is no longer permitted. Even stupid people should be allowed to speak freely.

  • urbizn Nov 20, 2008

    iwanttobeillegalalien, keep in mind that WKNC is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and as such you can file FEDERAL civil rights complaints against the station/university and individually against the student deejays who play that music.

  • sglangley35 Nov 20, 2008

    Will the NAACP or the university demand that everyone using the "N-word" or speaking violently be diciplined? Of coarse not. If that were the case blacks who regularly use offensive, racially charged words would have to be diciplined also. Rap music, which uses the "N-word", and speaks of violence towards women, whites, Asians, and Jews repeatedly would have to be banned. How about violent video games that allow the "player" to participate in outrageous violent acts? Will they put a stop to that? We know this will never happen. This is nothing more than a selective ban on free speech. If this had been a couple of black students writing about "putting a cap" in George Bush's skull it wouldn't even be news worthy.

  • twc Nov 20, 2008

    barber demanded an answer within 48 hours!! Did he get it? Is State now going to sign a treaty with the naacp? Is barber going to replace the chancellor? Will the tunnel remain open? Will more cameras be aimed at the tunnel to help control unwanted expressions? I want answers to these questions in 48 hours!!!

  • twc Nov 20, 2008

    Yet another layer of freedom eroded!! It will get worse, people! By the time we take a stand against it it will be a tough fight.

    The post about the racist lyrics in the rap songs on the State radio station need to be heeded. I want an answer to what is going to be done about it! You've got 48 hours!!

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