Black Student Union Outraged by “White Only” and “Black Only” Signs on Campus

University of Buffalo Students were outraged, perturbed, baffled and traumatized by signs posted outside campus restrooms and near water fountains, reminiscent of 1950’s era Jim Crow laws. Some were so angered they thought the posting of these racist “White Only” and “Black Only” signs constituted an “act of terrorism.”

At a Black Student Union meeting to discuss this act of terrorism that was obviously committed by some angry, white domestic terrorist, one member stood up and announced that she was the culprit. And she wasn’t a white girl. Being an exclusionary group, the Black Student Union only allows blacks. The culprit who posted the signs around campus was a black girl. She said she posted them as part of an art project.

As soon as she announced her admission, several students walked out, some crying, others visibly livid. One slammed the door on his way out. The UB Spectrum reported:

Ashley Powell, a graduate fine arts student, while standing in front of a group of more than 70 students at a Black Student Union (BSU) meeting Wednesday evening, admitted to hanging the signs.

Powell declined to be interviewed but submitted a statement to The Spectrum Thursday night. The full statement can be read here.

“I apologize for the extreme trauma, fear, and actual hurt and pain these signs brought about,” Powell said in the statement. “I apologize if you were hurt, but I do not apologize for what I did. Once again, this is my art practice. My work directly involves black trauma and non-white suffering. I do not believe that there can be social healing without first coming to terms with and expressing our own pain, rage, and trauma.”

According to the University Police, their initial investigation found that the signs were in fact part of an art project. Probably nothing will happen to the art student, and I’m not necessarily saying anything should happen to her. If I saw those signs on a college campus, I’d be a bit confused and amused, but would assume it was a student prank. But then again, part of the reason the Black Student Union were so outraged was that most of the white students didn’t seem to care all that much.

I can’t help but point out that if this had been a white art student, he would have been expelled, arrested by University Police and charged with a hate crime.