NCSU Student Senate passes modifed bill as graffiti response
Posted November 19, 2008 11:02 p.m. EST
Updated November 20, 2008 8:03 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.