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Hoax: University officials determine racist messages self-inflicted

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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A Grand Valley State University student who claimed to be the victim of racist messages fabricated the incident, campus officials have determined.

In February, an African-American student reported that someone left racist messages and drawings on a whiteboard outside of their dorm room at Copeland Living Center on the Allendale, Michigan campus. The messages included anti-black phrases and a drawing of a person being hanged.

But police say that the markings were self-inflicted.

“The person believed to be responsible for the drawing and language written on the dry erase board is a Grand Valley student and the owner of the message board,”said Grand Valley police department chief Renee Freeman in a statement released Friday.

Campus officials and students denounced the act when it was assumed to be racially motivated.

“It clearly was a very hateful and intimidating act,” said GVSU dean of students Bart Merkle, reported the Grand Rapids Press at the time. “That’s not OK. We’re a university that cares deeply about how people are treated.”

“(Harassment), it’s like rape or incest or any other hateful, power crime that gets very minimally reported,” said GVSU provost Gayle Davis, according to the Grand Valley Lanthorn. “We can get things out of the climate study and know there’s a problem, but it’s very hard to pinpoint who’s doing it and who’s being victimized by it.”

Outraged student groups and members of GVSU faculty planned a teach-in which is set to take place on March 26.

The schedule for the teach-in shows events lasting throughout the entire day, from 8 a.m. until 9:50 p.m. covering topics on not just race issues but also other social justice subject matter.

In an event titled “Micro-aggressions: It all adds up” event participants “will engage participants around the idea of White Supremacy at GVSU through an intersectional lens, thus making the connections between White Supremacy, Patriarchy, Homophobia/Transphobia, Ableism, Christian Supremacy and Classism.”

Other teach-in events include “Putting the Pieces of Autism Together” and “Constructing Gender on Campus” and “The Invisible Privilege of Being Able-Bodied.”

In her statement, Chief Freeman acknowledged that the fabricated incident has been a distraction to the 25,000 student school just outside of Grand Rapids.

“The incident has had a disruptive impact on the community and as a result, the student has been referred to the Dean of Students for a student code violation,” said Chief Freeman in Friday’s statement, adding that the name and gender of the student will not be released.

But the phony claim of a racist act did not fully deter Freeman from addressing campus racism.

“Additionally, the Grand Valley Police Department recognizes that there are bias incidents that take place in our community, so the department, in partnership with many other departments and individuals, remains involved and interested in raising awareness through educational opportunities to help prevent discrimination in any form.”

Neither Davis nor Merkle responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment. It is unclear whether the March 26 teach-in will still take place.

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