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University offers counseling after pro-Black Lives Matter whiteboard message defaced

After a “positive” Black Lives Matter message on a whiteboard inside a University of Iowa residence hall was defaced, administrators not only launched a police investigation, but also offered counseling to those distressed by the incident.

“On the evening of Friday, May 6, 2016, someone wrote offensive drawings on a whiteboard. The drawings were racially biased and defaced what was a positive Black Lives Matter statement with hate-speech directed at Black and African American people as an ethnic and racial group,” according to a memo to students provided to The College Fix by the campus public affairs office.

“If you have been impacted by this incident, and would like to talk more about it, feel free to contact me directly so that we can meet,” continued Monica Marcelo, assistant director of residence education, who penned the memo.

She went on to list more resources for students if “this incident has invoked a strong reaction from you.”

Among the additional resources, she cited and provided contact information for university counseling services, office of the ombudsperson, and center for diversity and enrichment.

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The incident is also under investigation by campus police.

“University of Iowa Police responded and are investigating the incident,” Anne Bassett, a campus spokeswoman, told The College Fix via email. “We will not tolerate anything but a safe and inclusive campus for students of all backgrounds. No one should feel that their race or any aspect of their identity makes them a target.”

Asked whether the university can release photo documentation of the defacement, Bassett replied “No, it cannot.”

She did not respond to questions from The College Fix on the number of students who saw the defacement, or whether there is any possibility it could be a hoax, as the campus is currently embroiled in racial tensions.

On April 30, Marcus Owens, a black UI freshman, was badly beaten up in a downtown alley. According to various news reports, he told police the perpetrators were three white men yelling racial slurs, and Iowa police are investigating it as a possible hate crime.

After Owens was released from the hospital two days later, he went to report the assault to campus police, but was sent to the city police department since the incident occurred downtown and off-campus, according to reports.

That infuriated some students of color, after they also found out about the alleged hate crime near campus from news outlets — instead of a campus crime alert. They launched a protest, a sit in and hashtag #ExplainIowa, pressure that ultimately led campus officials to promise to review police reporting procedures.

The whiteboard “defacement” took place seven days after Owen’s assault.

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About the Author
Michael McGrady --University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.