PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Students on the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania were alarmed and saddened when chalk drawings of someone being hanged were found on two trees.
“When I first saw it, I was outraged,” said Tiana Reid, Vice-President of the IUP Black Student League.
Since it was the day after a tolerance rally on campus, many students thought the drawings were a racist message.
But a group has come forward to take responsibility for the drawings and apologize.
Members of the group called STAND, the Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, say they did the chalk drawings – as well as several others on sidewalks on campus – to raise awareness about genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Some of their drawings contain the words “Murdered” and “Raped” as well as the drawings on the trees which read “Hanged.”
Elliot Sutter, President of STAND, says rain overnight washed the chalk sidewalk drawings away, only leaving the drawings on the trees. As a result, he said, “It’s completely out of context, we’re very sorry.”
He said his group is about ending crimes against humanity and never intended to upset people.
Nadia Zimmerman, also a member of STAND, said, “We didn’t mean it in this way at all. We’re about stopping problems all over.”
Samuel Johnson, a senior at IUP, says he’s comforted to know the drawings weren’t intended as racist messages. However, he wishes the group had thought beforehand about whether they would offend anyone with their drawings.
A spokesperson at IUP says the school will talk with STAND’s faculty advisor to make sure this sort of things doesn’t happen again.
A meeting with different campus groups, including STAND, is scheduled for next week to discuss the incident.