North Carolina StateUniversity Campus Police and the University are investigating potentially threatening and racist messages left in the Free Expression Tunnel Wednesday relating to the election of Barack Obama as America's first black president.
"The strength and positive force of spirited debate is sapped when we resort to name-calling and negativity," Chancellor James Oblinger stated in a press release. "Worse, when we lower ourselves to engaging in racist characterizations and inappropriate statements of anger and hate, we make a mockery of our right to free speech."
Campus Police painted the tunnel white to cover the messages Wednesday morning, and Student Government is sponsoring a rally in the Brickyard Thursday to promote unity.
Lock Whiteside, an Obama supporter and student chief justice, said he felt strong emotions after Obama's win.
"I'm overwhelmed with emotions right now," he said. "It's hard to explain. A lot of people have worked over decades to get to this. With those events that took place on our campus, it just shows that we've still got work to do."
At 12:15 p.m. Thursdsay, students can participate in activities to promote unity and sign on to a letter from student leaders speaking out against hate speech, according to Student Body President Jay Dawkins.
From 1 to 1:20 p.m., Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Tom Stafford and other administrators will speak on the issues of intolerance on campus.
Earlier this year, Ku Klux Klan advertisements were written in several areas on campus, and in November 2007, University employees found a toilet paper noose inside Sullivan Shops.
Dawkins said these actions are not a reflection of the University.
"It's probably the same group of one or two people that are in no way representative of what N.C. State is about," Dawkins said.
To respond to the negative speech, a group of friends spray painted messages of equality in the Free Expression Tunnel Wednesday night.
"We need to remember some of the basic truths that America was founded on," Britt Brown, a freshman in communication working to paint the tunnel, said. "I'm proud that over half the country would vote for Obama."
Ashley Hiersche, a freshman in chemistry, said this is offensive to all Americans, not just Obama supporters.
"I"m appalled at how mean and racist some people can be in a town like this," she said.
The historic nature of Obama's election should not be overshadowed by an event as petty as what happened in the Free Expression Tunnel, according to Paige Henderson, a freshman in sociology.
"It kind of puts a bitter aftertaste [on his win]," she said.
Whiteside said events like this reiterate that Obama's election will not end all racial division.
"It creates a greater opportunity to have dialogue on the racial divisions that are still present in our country," he said. "The election of Obama did not solve this issue over night."
Obama will likely inspire many young minorities to follow their dreams, he said.
"It goes to show you that you can become anything that you want to in America," he said.