Students at the University at Buffalo found signs reading “White Only” posted near restrooms and water fountains on campus Wednesday morning.
Campus officials initially treated the incident as an “insensitive prank.” The signs, located in various buildings, were removed by campus police when alerted.
Before they were removed, concerned students took pictures of the signs and began sharing on social media. The first response the University gave to students was, “This will be not tolerated at UB. We are taking this incident very seriously. University Police is investigating. The signs have been removed.”
Later UB officials posted on their twitter:
After an initial investigation by U. Police, #UBuffalo has determined the signs posted in Clemens Hall were part of a student art project…
— University @ Buffalo (@UBCommunity) September 17, 2015
Ashley Powell, a graduate student in fine arts, admitted to being responsible for the signs at a meeting of the Black Student Union on September 16. Powell, who is Black, hung the signs as a project for her “Installation: Urban Spaces” class, which requires the creation of an art installation in a public space.
“The students are concerned primarily with their safety, their rights as students paying money to attend this university, and the repercussions of Ashley Powell’s art project”, said Terem Adi, an executive member of the Black Student Union.
Over 100 students turned out a meeting held by the BSU. Instead of holding one of their usual general body meetings, which typically attracts around 40 students, student leaders decided to use the time to provide an open and safe space for students to express their concerns, fears, and frustrations.
“We attend this school and love that we have outlets to meet and discuss issues pertaining our race and culture. We are students and love that UB gives us that opportunity. We simply want UB to officially state that this isn’t okay,” said Adi.
The University has still yet to release an official statement on the incident.