Racial slurs chalked across campus

On Wednesday morning, students found the words “First Amendment” along with racial slurs chalked on sidewalks filtered throughout campus.

“Last night, an unknown individual or individuals chalked words on our campus that disparaged members of various racial and ethnic groups, including African American and white,” Mark Nelson, vice president for student affairs and vice provost, said in a statement the University released Wednesday afternoon.

“We believe that this could have been an attempt to assert First Amendment rights,” Nelson said. “The words were removed as soon as they were discovered.”

Dexter Strong, a senior majoring in religious studies, said he saw the remnants of the word “nigger” chalked on the Quad.

“I thought it was interesting to me and felt that the chalking stemmed from the situation that happened with Justin [Zimmerman],” he said. “My reaction to the chalking and the recent incidents was to let it roll off my back and try not to allow it to make me upset. I don’t think ignorant comments like that should be given a response, and I think the best response is no response. I think that by giving those persons a voice is similar to putting gas on a fire, than evading it with water.”

Joshua Berry, a junior majoring in psychology, said he saw some of the chalkings, and he said he continued walking and tried not to pay attention to the words as well.

“My reaction to the chalking I saw was just ‘Wow, there are people that are really taking this out of hand,’” Berry said. “I saw the chalking written in front of Gallalee Hall, and it appeared that people had tried to wash it off, but you could see they were writing the beginning of the First Amendment.”

The University’s statement continued to say that UA supports the First Amendment. However, the words were mean-spirited and unacceptable.

“As members of the UA community, the majority of our faculty, staff and students reject the notion that this type of behavior reflects our collective experience,” Nelson said in the statement. “As a community, we respect and value each member of the UA family, and I trust that we will make decisions that reinforce and reflect that commitment.”

Ashley Johnson, a junior majoring in journalism, said she witnessed maintenance washing off the words.

“I was walking right by the Round House, and maintenance was just scrubbing around their golf carts,” Johnson said. “UAPD came running up said something like, ‘We found more over here.’”

David Fernandez, a senior majoring in business management, said he was walking from Lloyd Hall to Bidgood Hall and saw the word “kike” first.

“Did I just see what I thought I saw?” Fernandez said. “I looked around to see if I could find some context.”

Fernandez said he saw “First Amendment” written near by the word and continued to walk over to Gorgas Library where he saw the word “nigger.”

“It wasn’t something I was really prepared to deal with at 9 o’clock in the morning,” Fernandez said. “It wasn’t the way I expected to start my day.”

After his class, Fernandez said he went to take a picture around 10 a.m., but the chalking had been washed away. Fernandez said he was disappointed in the chalkings but not surprised.

“Given the things that went on this weekend, I can’t say I didn’t expect it,” Fernandez said. “Definitely not the first time I’ve seen or heard something like this out in public. Don’t expect it to be the last.”

Strong said that he thinks the University is handling all of the situations properly.

“I think the University is responding to these incidences well, and I think they are handling it the way they should be,” Strong said. “The e-mails that have followed the incidences send the message to individuals that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. It means that those persons that seek to isolate others and make them feel lesser will face negative and warranted consequences.”

However, Fernandez said he felt that more needed to be done.

“People need to stop acting like it’s something new,” he said. “We need to make progress on this issue.”

Brittney Knox and Victor Luckerson contributed to this report.

  • Anonymous

    Really?? I can not believe people of such profound ignorance find it necessary to put their complete lack of humanity on display for the whole university to see. Some of us like to consider our education important and do not want idiotic slurs like this impeding that process!! I hope the University hears the cries of the people with more class and dignity than the people doing this, and expels them as soon as they are caught. People like that have NO PLACE in an educational setting!!

  • Anonymous

    OK. Whoever responsible for for this is a complete moron. We do not have freedom of speech against anyone we want anywhere we want. We have freedom of speech against the government, and we have the freedom to protest and express ourselves against the government and its policies. We don’t have the freedom to go around using racial slurs on a university campus. You do NOT have freedom of speech on a university campus, and even if we DID have that freedom, are you that dumb that you have to go around writing racial slurs all over the place? GROW UP!

  • Anonymous

    Exactly how is writing embarrassingly ignorant words across campus a smart way to champion the 1st Amendment? I love how the first thing people do when they’ve been called it for saying something idiotic, the first thing they do is run crying to the 1st Amendment. The Bill of Rights is a beautiful thing, but let’s not abuse it, eh? This is America, people have the right to say whatever they want, no matter how stupid it is, but how about a little personal accountability? And I don’t see how harassment, which is what the guy who shouted the slurs at Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of, would constitute an honorable exercise of free speech. It’s a disgrace, and it makes me embarrassed for this University and the state of Alabama.

  • Anonymous

    The First Amendment grants the right to say what you want for or against any people of any religion, sexuality, race, or any other association so long as it is not intimidating violence. The government cannot do anything to hinder you. However, when enrolled as students, we are held to a standard that includes respect for others, and the school is welcome to remove any student who breaks these standards. They can’t have the student arrested, but they rid themselves of all association. It’s just the same as having to wear a job uniform; if you fail to do so, your employer is free to fire you for not complying to employee standards. The First Amendment is not applicable in these circumstances.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AshleyEnglishEducationWalker Ashley Walker

    hey I have a report on this topic and i need sources to give to my teacher so she could see that i really did the project. would anyone mind giving me their name and email so I could put on my sources sheet!.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=27405569 Brittni Jones

      This is what you are using as a “source” for your report? I would gather more reputable sources, if I were you. Just sayin’.

      Just out of curiosity, to which topic are you referring for your report? This specific incident or any incident where people question first amendment rights?

  • Anonymous

    As a grad I’m so proud to read an article about the many deep moral value reflections occurring within the university of alabama student body. like frats chalking their first amendment right to shout “nigger” at African American students on campus? Its about time that the good ole boys imparted order!! At the time I left it was getting to comfortable for everyone. Drag queens were in public… at Target!!

    I’m sorry liberals are threatening to take these rights away from you guys!! But, stay firm in your stance and you really could make Alabama a maverick for civil liberties! Remember your southern roots gentlemen, if the rest of the country disagrees with your political opinions you always have the option of succeeding from the union!!

  • Anonymous

    As a grad I’m so proud to read an article about the many deep moral value reflections occurring within the university of alabama student body. like frats chalking their first amendment right to shout “nigger” at African American students on campus? Its about time that the good ole boys imparted order!! At the time I left it was getting to comfortable for everyone. Drag queens were in public… at Target!!

    I’m sorry liberals are threatening to take these rights away from you guys!! But, stay firm in your stance and you really could make Alabama a maverick for civil liberties! Remember your southern roots gentlemen, if the rest of the country disagrees with your political opinions you always have the option of succeeding from the union!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=20703981 David DeMedicis

    Did anyone have the balls to take credit for this? Al-Queda at least claims responsibility for their acts of terrorism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=20703981 David DeMedicis

    Did anyone have the balls to take credit for this? Al-Queda at least claims responsibility for their acts of terrorism.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CJFCNF3YUAKWPEYWPGBOOMKT7A Bama Man

    As an alumnus of this great university, I am very embarrassed that these behaviors continue in 2011. However, I am not surprised because when I was a student, we witnessed similar behaviors from ignorant people. Granted, first amendment does give the freedom of speech, but I don’t recall it ever saying to be ignorant in speech or mean spirited in speech.

    Not only is this embarrassing, but it is a major deterrent to recruiting top notch students to the University. When people see this in the media, it continues to paint a negative connotation of our beloved Capstone.

    If you wish to exercise your first amendment right, do it with dignity and honor. Only cowards do things in secret. Please don’t allow your ignorance and stupidity to overshadow great strides the University has made.