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Baylor U. Administration, Student Government Denounce Racial Clashes

This story was written by Kate Williams, The Lariat

(UWIRE) -- Baylor University interim President David Garland told Student Senate Thursday evening that he was deeply embarrassed and extremely disturbed by the post-election activities of a few students.

A student reported a noose hanging from a tree outside of Morrison Hall Tuesday.

Later that evening, Baylor police broke up an on-campus shouting match between white and black students.

Garland said both the fighting and noose were upsetting and unacceptable.

"This is not who Baylor is, and this is not who our students are, either," he said.

In response to the incidents, student government passed a bill of disapproval on behalf of the student body.

"The resolution passed is intended to express senate's disapproval of Tuesday's indecent acts and to express support for our nation during this transition of leadership," said Bryan Fonville, student body president.

The bill will be distributed to the appropriate outlets, including President-elect Barack Obama, as soon as possible, Fonville said.

Garland, who was out of town on Tuesday, was informed of the incident through an e-mail. He said he is working with administration to take the appropriate action.

"Whoever hung the noose has deeply embarrassed the university and we will not tolerate it," he said.

Students overwhelmingly agreed with Garland when he said that the discriminatory actions of a few students were hampering the mission of the university.

"We pride our self as a Christian university and when things like this occur, it is easier for people to say 'ah-ha,'" Garland said.

Junior Rani Baranzi said the events were threatening and violent.

"I find it scary that this happened, we are supposed to be uniting a country," Baranzi said.

Beaumont sophomore Will Fuller told Garland that 99.9 percent of students at Baylor are not racially discriminatory.

"The actions of a few are putting a stain over Baylor," Fuller said.

Garland nodded his head in agreement and stated he hoped that Student Senate would help the university respond to any incident involving race on campus.

"The administration is trying to make a statement that this is not who Baylor is, but [student government] should too," he said.

In response to the concerns of students, Dub Oliver, vice president of Student Life, confirmed the university is moving forward with a new biased-incident program.

It will aim at helping students deal with various prejudices.

"We have begun working on a biased incident response team, which is a place students can go to and share particular bias issues," he said.

The idea for a biased response team began around this time last year, Oliver said.

However, Tuesday's incident prompted the response team's staff to begin the program as soon as possible.

"The [bias response] team will walk with a student in a formal mechanism so they know what the appropriate actions are," Oliver said.

Senior Morgan Black said forming a partnership between students and administration is part of solving on-campus discrimination.

"Opening the lines between the students and administration lets everyone know we do not tolerate this type of behavior," Black said.

Garland closed the evening by stating that the university will begin building from the ground up to facilitate the most effective response possible.

"We are a very diverse campus and we are going to have to learn this is who we ar and that we need to get along together," he said.

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