UNC Charlotte’s student body president and vice president expressed solidarity with Muslim students after they said vulgar images targeting racial and religious minorities were displayed in two on-campus residence halls.
Over the past two weeks, such images were found twice in the halls, student body president Tracey Allsbrook and vice president Bryan McCollom said in a statement on Twitter and Facebook. Both images have been removed and are being investigated by the university, according to Allsbrook and McCollom.
“We believe in a campus community that welcomes people from all backgrounds,” the students said in their statement. “We reject discrimination and/or bigotry being directed at anyone, on the basis of their race, religion, sex, gender, disability and all other identities. “We want to express our solidarity especially with our Muslim student population who were targeted in the most recent of the two incidents.”
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Buffie Stephens, UNCC associate director for media relations, said the school knows of only one incident: A flyer that appears to be a reprint of a vulgar, anti-Muslim cartoon being posted on the door of a suite in Wallis Hall. None of the four students who live in the suite identifies as Muslim, she said.
“We don’t know who put it there,” she said.
The school’s Office of Housing and Residence Life and Department of Police and Public Safety responded to a report of the “culturally insensitive and inappropriate flyer” on Sunday, according to a school statement. The university apprised students in the residence hall shortly after the discovery.
Any student found responsible for the incident may be subject to discipline per the UNCC Student Code of Conduct, the school’s statement said.
Diversity and inclusion are important initiatives at UNCC, Stephens said. The school’s website includes a statement on diversity that in part says UNCC “actively seeks to promote diversity in its educational environment through its recruitment, enrollment, and hiring practices.”
UNCC “has been a school represented well as far as diversity goes,” said Jibril Hough, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte. “It’s always been a good atmosphere out there. But we’re not at all surprised when people feel like they can exercise their bigotry more than they could before,” Hough said.
Hough said bigots “have been empowered” since Donald Trump was elected president. Hate crimes have doubled in the country since the election, Hough said, and Charlotte and the rest of the state have also seen a significant rise. He said he expects such incidents to continue.
“This sort of incident reflects the troubling rise in bigotry nationwide targeting American Muslims and other minority groups since the November election,” agreed Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“It is a disturbing trend that should be addressed by our nation’s leaders as a threat to America’s longstanding traditions of religious inclusion and ethnic diversity,” Hooper said.