Racist Graffiti Concerns Students, Staff at Eastern Michigan U

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

An announcement has come from the president of Eastern Michigan University concerning racial graffiti found on campus, only one day after students protested offensive graffiti found spray-painted outside of a building.

The letters “KKK” had been found sprayed in large red, white and blue letters earlier in the week, alongside the words “LEAVE (racial slur),” which was written in black spray paint.

“I was shocked and hurt that something like this could happen on such a diverse and open campus,” said Tanasia Morton, a senior from Cleveland who is president of the student body.

The following day, a candlelight vigil was held by student government leaders, as well as the city of Ypsilanti’s leaders and the local NAACP as a message that injustice within the community will not be tolerated.  The vigil is meant to not only address the current graffiti situation but also events ongoing across the nation.

University president James Smith announced the finding of another racial slur to the campus community that same evening.  The slur, found written on the stairway of a residence hall, has since been removed, writes Katrease Stafford for The Detroit Free Press.

“However, removal of these racist messages does not eliminate the impact of such hateful and intentional actions,” he wrote in a statement. “I want to reiterate that I, along with hundreds of people in the University community whom I have heard from, strongly condemn these criminal acts, which are completely counter to the values and welcoming environment of our highly diverse campus.”

Smith stated that a $2,500 reward would be offered to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the person or people responsible.  He went on to say that the campus would see an increase in police presence, as well as continued efforts to ensure that students are able to share their concerns in a safe environment.  “We are committed to continuing to take tangible actions to ensure a safe, inclusive and welcoming campus environment,” he wrote.

At the same time, tensions are increasing across the nation over recent police shootings, the most recent of which involved black men in Charlotte and Tulsa this week.  Incidents on college campuses have been on the rise since the beginning of the school year, writes Susan Svrluga for The Washington Post.

While a protest was held at American University on Monday over issues of racism after a series of incidents, including one in which a student had a banana thrown at her, students gathered at Kansas State University to push change after a Snapchat photo made its way around social media featuring a former student with her face blackened along with a racial slur.

The graffiti found at Eastern Michigan University was power-washed away, but students continued to gather on the site throughout the day holding signs and looking for answers.

Smith said they spoke with students at length about the incident to listen to their concerns and assure students the issues would be dealt with in full and would not be ignored.