Student Hung ‘White’ and ‘Colored’ Signs to ‘Make a Point’

Jennifer Kabbany, College Fix, September 2, 2014

The student who hung “White Only” and “Colored” signs on doors and water fountains in a dormitory at Sweet Briar College last Thursday isn’t a racist–she’s a social justice crusader trying to “make a point.”


On Thursday, the president of Sweet Briar College, an all-female liberal arts college in Virginia, sent out a gravely worded announcement about the incident.

“Sometime between 8 and 10:30 this morning, four labels, made with a label-maker, were affixed to doors and the water cooler on the fourth floor of Meta Glass,” wrote President James Jones. “As difficult as this is to believe, two of the labels read ‘White Only,’ and two ‘Colored.’ ”

Jones goes on to note that:

. . . we [may] have among us someone who is essentially bigoted and mean-spirited who would recall the Jim Crow days of separation, mirroring the apartheid of South Africa that summoned the calm voice of reason of Nelson Mandela to decry hatred and to seek to change one’s immediate environment for the better.

On the other, perhaps more theoretically positive: Someone . . . sought to use the old, abusive words to remind us that while such terms were part of the historical past, some of the emotions lurking behind the words might still linger in a few.


At any rate, the vandal emailed in a mea culpa of sorts to President Jones a day later which read in part:

While posting these extremely hurtful labels, I had one thing in mind. My mission was to show others that words can still have an extreme impact, and the past still resonates with us all. While moving forward, we can never really shake the past. The past is a part of us and we are a part of the past. While they did not necessarily know this before, we are all equal and nobody deserves to be treated unfairly. I was trying to make a point, but the point ended up ‘making me’ . . . now everyone has ideas on what type of person that I am. I am none of these things . . . . I am myself, I am caring and kind. I am the last person who would ever intentionally hurt someone else, but most of all, I am sorry!

In response, President Jones has asked her to turn herself in and adds that her hoax was well intentioned.

What has occurred on our College campus since Thursday morning points directly to the fact that sometimes our actions and words, no matter how well intentioned, backfire unexpectedly and inflict pain, hurt, and suffering upon others around us.

The vandalism was justified in part by President Jones in his two letters to the campus community because the school hosted a play during freshman orientation called “In Sweet Remembrance” that delved into the 113-year-old college’s segregated past. The signs were hung the day after the play debuted on campus.


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