January 13, 2014
An apparent act of vandalism at the University of Virginia also hints of some racism on grounds, and at least some students say they're not surprised.
An unknown person wrote on a sign outside the student health center, "UVa Hates Blacks."
Fourth-year student Ebonie Williams, who is also active in the NAACP, says she was disappointed to hear of the act, but she's not surprised.
"Since I've been at the university, there's always been this sort of racial tension overcast over everything," Williams said.
The university wasted little time in cleaning up the vandalism. A viewer sent in a photograph of the graffiti into the Newsplex, as the writing was gone by 10:30 a.m. Monday.
Some smudges and outlines of letters were apparent on the sign later Monday morning, but the average person walking by wouldn't notice anything different.
"UVa has a lot of diversity as far as numbers, but as far as interaction between those communities and understanding the different cultural differences, it's not there," Williams said.
It's not the first act of apparent racism at the University of Virginia. Williams said she's attended a number of meetings to address the issue, but the problems remain.
"I've seen a lot of talking about what we can do," she said. "The thing is that the people who need to be there to hear the conversations are never there."
Other students did express shock as they learned of the graffiti.
"It's really appalling, especially in today's society that that would be an acceptable reaction or anything that you would want to publicly display, especially tagging the university in it as well," fourth-year student Hope Mancini said.
The university released a statement to the Newsplex regarding the sign, saying:
"The university rejects any such expression of hatred and ignorance. UVa is committed to promoting an inclusive and welcoming environment, and there is no place for intolerance, bigotry or hatred in such an environment. We condemn this act, which does not represent the University's values, and will not be tolerated."
"I hate that that's part of my identity as a student that someone would write something like that," fourth-year student Abby Harries said.
Williams said that she hopes a productive discussion will continue on grounds. While she's hurt by the words, she says they won't hold her back.
"People are still going to go forward and get their education and go on and do great thing," she said. "It's hurtful a little bit. It's disappointing. But it's not stopping anyone from doing what they came here to do."
The university police department is investigating the incident and asks anyone with information to give them a call.
Williams has a message for the person who wrote the graffiti.
"I would pray for them because they're the ones losing out by not interacting with different people and are stuck in their ways," she said. "In the end, it's only them that loses."