October 3, 2007
Albany - - The Jena 6 controversy in Louisiana put racial tensions and unequal justice back in the headlines. It also sparked several incidents of racial insensitivity on college campuses.
At a Darton college minority student group's fashion show, students prided themselves on diversity, with black and white students participating.
It helps them understand other cultures and put an end to racism on college campuses.
"It should've been over a long time ago," says 18 year old Kareem Khareed.
But it's not.
Last month, students found a noose found hanging from a tree near the African-American cultural center at the University of Maryland.
Just this week, officials at the University of Monroe Louisiana said they're investigating two students covering themselves in mud and prancing around a river bank in Blackface mocking the Jena 6 fight and then putting the pictures on the Internet.
"Do you think college students are mature enough to know the difference?" we asked student Montraveous Cheeks.
"You should be. At this age, you really should be," the 18 year old replied.
At Grambling State University, students organized a demonstration, taking photos of a young child with a noose. The students said it was to shock people and teach them racism is wrong.
"We have a zero tolerance policy for anything comparable to the things that have happened," says Wendy Wilson with Darton's Minority Advising Program.
"As long as the Jena 6's continue within this country and we have nooses being hung from trees, there is still an opportunity to educate and to address peoples' insecurities of 'I can't identify with you because you are not a part of the world that I know'," Wilson adds.
That's why 19 year old Emily Arnold got involved in Darton's Cultural Exchange program.
"Since were in the deep south as they call it, there are a lot of people who are really strong into their roots," she says.
No matter what a school does to educate, administrators say it's really up to the student.
"We can just put the tools before you, you have to actually apply that," Wilson says.
In order to fight inherent or unintentional hatred.
"Because it's ignorant," Cheeks says.
And these students don't want any part in it.
Wilson says Darton has an open-door policy for students to discuss any racial tensions with administrators to solve problems before they escalate.