MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Black students at Kansas State University voiced concerns about recent racist incidents at a meeting with top school officials on Wednesday night after a car was found near campus earlier in the day scrawled with racial slurs and threats.
University spokesman Jeff Morris said the meeting discussed a range of concerns from security and safety on campus, to the need for a multicultural center and progress on hiring a chief diversity officer.
The gathering with the Black Student Union was hastily convened after a car belonging to a Black man who says he studied at the university was scrawled with graffiti off-campus early Wednesday.
Photographs of the car showed it covered with racial slurs against Blacks and messages that included “Go Home,” ”Date your own kind,” and “Die.”
The man told the Kansas City Star in an interview that the vandalism and resulting social media attention has made it impossible for him to go anywhere in Manhattan, the home of the university. He said that he does not want the attention, has withdrawn from the university and will return to his home in California.
“I was not raised to discriminate,” he said. He called the vandalism “sad, hurtful and disappointing.” The Star did not name the man because of safety concerns. The Associated Press also is not identifying him.
But Morris said the university does not have anyone enrolled at the university by the name that police say is the owner of the car.
“We do not have a person enrolled currently or in the past by that name,” Morris said. He said the university would continue to try to clear up the confusion on Thursday.
Morris said university President Richard Myers, a former Air Force general and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not attend the meeting with Black students Wednesday because he was in Washington for a meeting on military matters.
Myers posted a statement on the university’s Facebook page that did not directly mention the latest incident but called for greater diversity and inclusion efforts.
“I encourage all of us to come together with greater empathy, a greater concern for one another, and a greater understanding of how others see us,” the statement says.
Police are looking at whether the vandalism should be investigated as a hate crime, Hali Rowland, public information officer for Riley County Police, told The Star.
The graffiti is the latest in a string of such incidents at the school.
Last month, an anti-gay slur was found outside the university student union. In September, white supremacist fliers were found on campus. And in May, a noose was found hanging from a campus tree.