A poster showing solidarity with the Black Student Association was torn down earlier this month.
After a BSA poster was ripped Sept. 8 in Methodist Hall, Art Club students created one of their own to show support for the organization.
One of those posters also was ripped last week in the front entrance of Walker Center for Arts and Sciences.
The first torn poster advertised a BSA event called “Black Out,” which is a social event hosted every year.
The second posters read: “Diversity breeds creativity. Tear us down and we will come back stronger. Art Club stands with Black Student Association.”
Kanika Brown, BSA adviser and career services coordinator, said she found out about the most recent vandalism Sept. 18.
“I didn’t want to assume the same situation happened again as with the Black Out event posters, but it did make me curious,” Brown said.
When Brown heard about the Black Out posters, she said she immediately contacted housing officials.
“I was shocked and saddened that this happened to such a great group of students,” she said. “I could tell that they were hurt by this act.”
Michael Burns, director of housing and residential life, sent out an email to students stating that “actions like this can cause students to feel unsafe and unwanted and move us away from respect, learning and inclusivity.”
Brown said she appreciated this act from housing officials.
“I hope that students of all groups and organizations know that the housing department and student affairs has their back if they ever feel uncomfortable or disrespected in any way,” she said.
Burns refused to comment on the vandalisms.
Brown said she liked seeing the support from the Art Club.
“The students at OCU are one big family and will stand for what is right, not allowing anyone or group to feel excluded,” she said.
Clubs like BSA are important because they give black students a place to go, Brown said.
“The black student population at OCU is small, and this gives them a weekly opportunity to meet each other and to talk about their experiences,” she said.
BSA hosts several events throughout the year, which are open to students of all races.
Leondre Lattimore, studio art sophomore, BSA President and Art Club member, said he appreciated the Art Club’s poster.
“I felt a lot of support,” Lattimore said. “When things like that happen, you can tend to feel really alone, and it’s really hard to fight a battle by yourself.”
Lattimore said he hopes other organizations will stand in solidarity with BSA.
“It really meant a lot to me, as president, and I’m sure it meant a lot to everybody else in the organization,” he said.
Lattimore designed the Black Out posters himself.
“When I found out they were ripped, I was really hurt,” Lattimore said. “But I can’t say I’m surprised with everything going on in the world.”
Lattimore said he would like to see more follow-up from officials regarding the incident.
“We go here and we spend money like everybody, and we’re students just like everyone else,” he said. “For things like this to happen, you don’t even feel like you’re wanted.”
Shakurah Maynard, studio art sophomore, is president of Art Club and a member of BSA. She created the Art Club poster standing in support of BSA.
Maynard said she expected the posters to be torn down and printed extras. She also said she hopes other clubs will stand with BSA.
“I feel like that should be every person’s immediate reaction to stand up for something that’s obviously not cool,” she said.
Maynard said BSA has helped her find a support system. She said she hopes students start to take the issue more seriously.
“There should be no mixed thoughts on racism,” Maynard said. “There’s a definite right and a definite wrong. Whoever did it, they should feel ashamed of themselves.”
Madelyn Parker, English/art junior and Art Club member, said she was surprised.
“I always thought that OCU students were different because they use their voices to speak up, and this feels cowardly,” she said.
The Art Club values diversity because it helps people better understand each other, Parker said.
“It’s a little frustrating, but it’s not something that will stop the colors of the rainbow to shine,” she said.
“I don’t notice these things because it doesn’t affect me because I’m white. I feel like a lot of other people should realize that.”
Student affairs officials are conducting an investigation of the vandalism, but they have yet to identify a suspect.
“We would like to continue to encourage students to come forward if they did witness anything,” said Lesley Black, dean of students.
If students have any information, they may email Black at firstname.lastname@example.org.