The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People condemns recent events on university campuses that have exposed the problem of continuing racism at higher learning institutions across the country. Students at Texas A&M University, University of Texas at Austin, and John Hopkins University have recently participated in behavior that is degrading and offensive to students of color.
The behavior is reminiscent of similar incidents at Auburn University, Stetson University, the University of Mississippi and Oklahoma State University in the past five years. The Association is calling on universities across the country to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards students that participate in racially charged behavior or speech on campus.
"All students, regardless of their race or ethnic background, should be able to study and learn in environments that are free from racial attack," said Stefanie L. Brown, National Director of the NAACP Youth and College Division. "These recent incidents highlight the need to end campus racism, preserve affirmative action policies in higher education and desegregated public schools. A lack of diversity in the classroom can lead to a lack of diverse ideas on campus and poor socialization skills leading to inappropriate behavior."
Last week a videotape was released on the Internet website YouTube, which highlighted three Texas A & M students portraying slave-to-master relationships while wearing blackface make-up. All three students have since resigned from the university, and one student issued an apology.
At the University of Texas at Austin, students participated in annual event known as the "ghetto party" where they wore blackface make up and portrayed stereotypical African American behavior. Images from the event surfaced on the popular collegiate website known as "The Facebook," where students can post and make comments about pictures. Students from University of Texas at Austin and Texas A & M University posted comments and jokes showing their acceptance of the photos including the usage of traditionally racist words.
The Sigma Chi fraternity at the Johns Hopkins University hosted a party called "Halloween in the Hood" that drew complaints and was found to be racially hostile. African American students also voiced concerns about a skeleton hung from the ceiling that many felt was a symbol of lynching. The fraternity has been suspended and students responsible for the party have issued apologies.
"The time has come for universities to take a stand against any racist activities," said Dallas S. Jones, Southwestern Region Youth and College Field Director, which encompasses Texas. "Since these incidents have occurred the NAACP has received reports of similar racist conduct on these campuses. This is simply unacceptable in the twenty-first century."
"We will launch investigations into these incidents now because students on these campuses feel this type of behavior has gone on far too long," Brown added.
In response to recent events the NAACP Youth and College Division will introduce the Campaign to End Campus Racism. The program will be designed to provide students with a mechanism to report and address racist actions by other students while working with university administrators to develop policies that will discourage racist behaviors. The NAACP will kick-off the campaign in early 2007.
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