The semester before I started classes at the University of Missouri, two students were arrested for throwing cotton balls across the lawn of the Black Culture Center. During my second semester there, a student spray-painted the words “N****r Month” on a statue directly outside of my residence hall. A year after I graduated, students finally had enough and initiated a boycott that led to the UM System President Tim Wolfe resigning.
My alma mater is no anomaly. The events leading up to the 2015 protests are all too common on college campuses across the nation. The most recent to come out to condemn these actions that are usually dealt with in the dark is American University in Washington D.C.
According to the Washington Post, black students at American University, a private school of around 13,000 students, have made claims that they’ve been the targets of racist attacks in recent months.
An unnamed student claimed that a rotten banana was thrown through their dorm room door one night in early August. On the same night, Neah Gray, a freshman, opened her door to find a crude image written on a dry erase board and a rotten banana left on the floor.
Apparently, the reports of these incidents have increased tensions on campus and encouraged students to bring up past instances of racism as well, such as Donald Trump stickers being placed on the doors of Hispanic students and someone writing the “n-word” on a black student’s door.
Devontae Torriente, the AU student body president, said that minority students sometimes feel unwelcome on campus because of these attacks but that the problem goes much further than AU.
“It’s hard to tackle solving a problem on our campus when it’s such a pervasive national issue, as well,” he said. “We can’t solve the nation’s problem here at AU. But I think the school is headed in the right direction in figuring out what those next steps need to be.”
Torriente is correct. Mizzou and American University are just two examples of what is unfortunately a very common experience while attending a predominantly white institution.
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