Racism Growing on Campuses

Art Jester, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, October 19, 2007

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights called on the state’s educational institutions yesterday to stop hate-related incidents and to increase diversity on their campuses.

The commission’s recommendations were in a resolution approved by 9-0 vote in a meeting at the University of Kentucky Student Center.

This resolution was partly in response to the UK student newspaper’s Oct. 5 publication of an editorial cartoon that black students and others have attacked as racially offensive.

The Kentucky Kernel’s editorial cartoon depicted a black student standing bare-chested on a slave auction block as a white auctioneer takes bids from fictitious fraternities with names implying that they are all-white and racist: Aryan Omega, Kappa Kappa Kappa (KKK) and Alpha Caucasian.

After the cartoon appeared, there were protests on campus, and a racial slur was put on an African-American student’s residence hall door.

Commission Chairman Henry Curtis, a Frankfort lawyer, and John J. Johnson, the commission’s executive director, said there also have been increased reports of vandalism, harassment and the distribution of hate-related literature across the state. They cited incidents in Bowling Green, Lexington, Louisville, Morgantown, Owensboro and Winchester.

There were reports of Ku Klux Klan activities in those cities, Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the nation’s second-largest Klan group was reported “to have established a compound” in Dawson Springs, he said.

Klan fliers were handed out on the University of Louisville campus. There have been no reports of Klan involvement at UK.

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The commission said this was “not just a university problem” and had implications that affect the “wider community” in the Bluegrass.

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