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Kalon Bell, president of Black Student Unity at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, speaks during a teach-in regarding anti-black racism in Eagle Hall Friday.

A racist image scrawled on a whiteboard in a residence hall has spurred another discussion on hate, bias and racism at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

April Handtke, assistant director of housing, said staff doing a routine check of Coate Hall noticed a drawing of a black man being lynched by three men in white hoods accompanied by a drawing of a swastika and the words #black lives don’t matter. Staff found the drawing about 2 a.m. on Jan. 30 on one of the public whiteboards in a basement study room.

Handtke said staff are trained to take pictures of any objectionable material found in the residence halls and then make a hate/bias incident report. Handtke said the hall director communicated with his staff and residents his concerns about the hate portrayed in the act.

“This is not something that can be written off as a joke,” Handtke said. “No matter the intention, the impact of the drawing doesn’t change.”

According to the UW-L campus climate office website, 126 incidents of bias or hate have been reported on campus since August. The reports include acts such as graffiti or vandalism in the residence halls, as well as verbal misconduct and physical violence.

UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow said the investigation into the incident is still ongoing, and sent a copy of the image Friday morning in an email to everyone on campus with information about three events being held on racism and hate/bias. The first of the programs was a teach-in on racism held Friday in Eagle Hall, where students, professors and staff from the campus climate office spoke about its history and impact.

“We have to talk about these things,” Assistant Director of Campus Climate Amanda Goodenough said at the teach-in. “They are happening. And it is traumatizing for our community to see that.”

UW-L ethnic and racial studies professor Richard Breaux said he has become absolutely exhausted with the issue of racism. Just a few months ago, UW-L held a forum on the issue of a Confederate flag being displayed on campus by constructions workers.

During the teach-in, Breaux spoke about the history of racism, the Ku Klux Klan and blackface as well as their ties to higher education from the 1800s to today. He spoke about how the Klan marched in the University of Minnesota homecoming parade in the 1920s and how blackface was a routine presence in the history of collegiate social life from fraternity minstrel shows to recent incidents including a “ghetto party” at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater during the 2006-07 school year.

“You can see the historical significance where an image like this comes from,” Breaux said of the Coate Hall drawing.

Suthakaran Veerasamy, a psychology professor at UW-L, conducted an exercise with students attending the teach-in, where they pretended to be squirrels sharing a cage at the zoo with the elephants. That is how people in the minority feel in relation to white people, he said, where there are more whites with political, economic and other forms of power than the minority.

“Who’s running the show in the country,” he said, “the elephants or the squirrels?”

At the end of the teach-in, students were allowed to ask questions and one was about whether it was helpful to acknowledge racism. Both Breaux and Veerasamy said you have to tackle the topic rather than ignore it.

You have to start acknowledging the real problem, Veerasamy said, that this is a racist country and a racist campus. People don’t want to admit that, he said, and you can’t have a real dialog until they do.

“It is good this happened,” he said. “We get to see the university for what it is.”

Kalon Bell, a UW-L student and president of student organization Black Student Unity, said he was also very frustrated, upset and angry. The first time he was called the n-word was in third grade, he said, and in light of the recent incident, doesn’t know whether progress is being made.

Bell said he was disappointed only a small group of students, staff and faculty attended the event, with many chairs left open at the teach-in. Bell and other black students attending said they felt society and the university have failed in their duties to educate people about racism, and UW-L could do more to require students to learn about issues of race.

“That image is a culmination of what we knew about how people feel,” Bell said. “It is something the institution has failed to combat.”


Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

(73) comments


and isn't 'black student unity' and 'white student unity' racist? - what is wrong with "Student Unity" get rid of the color and everyone unify for pete's sake


Do they know who did the drawing? Is it really a white person that did it? it seems like there is a lot going on without even knowing who is behind it all.

Fear and Angst

Has the president of White Student Unity at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse commented on this story and condemned these acts of racism? Or would this organization be condemned as racist by the UW-L campus climate office??


Without a doubt, this is a direct result of climate change. Get out your checkbook.

Fear and Angst

UW-L campus climate office careers - when you can't succeed in the private sector, there's good money to be made in projecting you have a racist campus.


Is it racist that blacks commit more then 50% of all murders?
Source: FBI


It's not the color of their skin, it's the content of their character. Overwhelming percentage of violent criminals come from areas vote for democrats by 85%+


That is more likely because the Republican areas of the country don't have anyone living in them. They are wastelands nobody wants to live in.

Melowese Richardson

Well that's a stupid statement, as usual for you Tower.


I have joined your crowd MR.


"You have to start acknowledging the real problem, Veerasamy said, that this is a racist country and a racist campus. People don’t want to admit that, he said, and you can’t have a real dialog until they do."

“It is good this happened,” he said. “We get to see the university for what it is.”

“This is not something that can be written off as a joke,” Handtke said. “No matter the intention, the impact of the drawing doesn’t change.”

One cannot help but wonder if the drawing an message was not placed there, not by racists, but by those who wish to stir the pot and create trouble. A racist campus? I'm not seeing it.

So far, nobody has proven who drew the image. It's certainly something to keep in mind.


I don't find it surprising that Duddley finds himself swimming in the filth at the bottom of the tank. Way to go living up to the low opinion many have of you. Next you will be blaming the "outside agitators" coming in here to stir up our good Black folk who love to live here so much they are just a singing and dancing to entertain us white folks.


I don't care how this discussion goes, I only got interested when dopey said this:

I wonder how many Che Guevara images there are on campus?
* * *

It brought to mind a memory from TIME Magazine during the 2008 election, in an in-depth article about Obama. Along with it was a collage of photos, and one was of a young man at a desk in an obviously startup campaign office somewhere in America, the desk at a bare wall, except the wall had a poster, that iconic one of Che. Just above the desk, obviously connected.

That poster, so prominently allowed and displayed at an early Obama election office, gave me some great food for thought as the campaign progressed.


Isn't it wonderful that Obama gets to finally visit Cuba and pay homage to his idol? I am sure UWL doesn't find any hate with the Che' images.


Tower, I did happen to graduate and went on to make a very comfortable living.

Have you been able to get buy in this racist, unequal income country we live in?


And then there was the incident at Mizzou, where the student leader made up a story about the KKK being spotted on campus. This was done for no other reason than self aggrandizement; to bolster his own stature in the media and on campus.

This is really no different than the Prof saying UWL is a racist campus. Shameless self promotion.


dopey, if you did attend UW-L you should call & get your loan money back. I notice you didn't say you graduated. No wonder you don't think much of them.


I've been saying this about you for a while, tower. All six years you spent at UW-L but no mention of whether you actually graduated. I bet UW-L really wishes you would stop telling people...makes them look bad.

Did you get the Army to pay your tuition for all six years after injuring yourself in training to avoid going into combat? Do people assume you're a war hero because you park in handicapped parking spots with your Disabled Veteran plates? You aren't shy about sharing the fact you get free healthcare from the VA.


My goodness Duddley, you sure do have an interest in my personal life. You have to get over this obsession and love you have for me. It isn't healthy to stalk another man who has no interest in you. BTW: did I ever tell you they pay me to go get that socialist HC? Curb you envy and jealousy buttercup.


Discrimination of all forms will continue to exist as long as life exists.


"Suthakaran Veerasamy, a psychology professor at UW-L, conducted an exercise with students attending the teach-in, where they pretended to be squirrels sharing a cage at the zoo with the elephants."

This guy pretends to be a social scientist? We learned from Saturday morning cartoons that elephants are afraid of mice, not the other way around.


Timmy, I guess if the KKK starts handing out condoms and birth control pills, you would support federal funding?

Tim Russell

Another one of your absurd assumptions?


"absurd"? Since you support PP regardless of there past because they provide health services to some women, it seems like a reasonable conclusion, no?

dopey has the UWL Hate response team dealt with the issue?


dopey = troll

Please do not feed


If the faculty really wanted to combat this racist (singular not plural), simply pick up the eraser and wipe it away. The reason racism continues to exist is because we make huge news out of nothing. If all non-racists (95% of us) simply ignored the hateful few, it would fade away. Quit stirring the pot.


How would that expand the "diversity" department budget? That is the real goal.


Exactly, there are several million in payroll and benefits at stake tied to having a cause to pursue. No cause, no payroll.

Walker hasnt cut deep enough.


It would seem everyone involved, the graffiti person, the Prof, and the thin-skinned student body, should go back to high school for another year. Clearly they are not mature enough to be part of the adult world.


I see it took several hours to get the racist filth off the bottom of the tank.
They have every excuse in the world to justify this kind of behavior and we wonder why some boorish clod at UW-L thought this was appropriate? I know, they were just honoring the minority. You guys need to stop and quit showing yourselves to be ignorant twits.


Only publicity seeking liberals would make an issue out of this. Before the era of "diversity departments", the image would have been erased and not given a second thought. You cannot deny that quite often these publicity seeking events are traced back to a deliberate attempt by "diversity" causes for attention.


Silence in the face of this type of behavior makes you complicit. Racists need to be called out and publicly shamed to make them change their behavior.


Why are you silent when well known rap artists repeatedly use hateful language and make millions with lyrics offensive to women?

Tim Russell

How do you know anyone would be silent regarding rap artists? It has not been discussed on these pages. But you are big on making assumptions.


We are not talking about all the ills of the world. We are talking about one very specific incident. Nice way to try to deflect the argument.

screen name

Black culture and political correctness are responsible for much of the problem, and black leaders take no accountability and have no answers.


Speaking of racism, thanks again to Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans for defunding PP and their history of hate and racism.


So true, whether by intent or not, the end result is the same: Planned Parenthood has become a racist and genocidal organization.

Tim Russell

2.7 million women and men in the United States annually visit Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers for trusted health care services and information.


Clarification, it is you who apparently needs a history lesson. The 14th and 15th amendments, were passed without democrat support.


The university system is 90% controlled by the Democratic party. Based on their history in this country, you would expect racism and hate.

I wonder how many Che Guevara images there are on campus? I bet if they look, they will find all kinds of images and recordings of rappers notorious for the hateful racist lyrics and degradation of women.

Looks like the hate response team has got a lot of work to do, better expand their budget.


"The university system is 90% controlled by the Democratic party. Based on their history in this country, you would expect racism and hate." One of the dumbest comments of late. Dopey missed a few history classes about JFK and the civil rights movement, eh? Or just a troll with a few too many beers in his gut.


Most universities are now unionized (UWL) and promote and fund lobbying to the left, Dem candidates, and big government.

Not sure what that has to do with JFK.

David Jarzemski

The images referred to in the story can be found in any History textbook...'Nuff said


"history" is the key word.


What is this world coming to? This drawing could have been done by anyone. A minority could have done it just to get this kind of coverage. A white racist could have done it just to watch in glee as the campus gets it's undies in a bundle and spends money to "educate". What should have been done is the drawing should have been erased and forgotten about unless there was some kind of video proof of who did it. Otherwise, this meeting does nothing but play to the tune of the idiot that drew it.
And these are supposed to be the brightest students we have to lead us into the future? We are in trouble when they can be so easily manipulated.


dopey I'll bet a racist did this plain and simple


Not usually....


Michelle Malkin is a xenophobic racist from the get go. Even O'Rielly kicked her off his show for being a nut.


As usual tower, you are wrong. She quit Oreilly after Geraldo's attack on her based on her opinion that illegal immigrants should not be given a free pass like he supports.

Her article is factually accurate. If you dispute any of the facts outlined in it, please back it up.


Actually she was mad a O'Rielly for not coming to her defense. She left and he told her goodbye and don't let the door hit her in the butt.


So, again, what's your point? A racist drawing on the wall in a dorm and UW-L and a Black guy setting fires in St Louis are connected? Now lets see the history of Black Church fires since the Civil War. According to you and Malkin the Black people have been real busy. A stupid comparison.


Bet it was a liberal who did it for just the kind of publicity this is getting. It usually is.

UWL has way too much extra cash if they can spend it on this childish stuff.


You have finally found me out. I put on my black face and ninga outfit and silently crept into the bldg so all the bigoted rednecks in the community would come out of the woodwork to make a load of excuses for this boorish behavior. I see my crafty exercise has shown great promise.


If you in fact did do it, it wasn't to entertain any rednecks, because quite honestly, us rednecks don't really care about these stupid drawings. Rednecks wouldn't give this boorish behavior a second of publicity or 2 seconds of concern. The drawing is too simple minded and childish to entertain us rednecks.

Had a redneck discovered this image, he would have erased it and went to back to doing his/her homework, back to the job they need to pay their bills or to spend the day with their family. Most rednecks have much more important things to do with their time. This is 110% a liberal issue.


You are correct about rednecks being too stupid to even get into UW-L. They also lack the attention span to really care.


Plenty of us rednecks have gotten into UWL tower, and several us succeeded despite the whacko liberal professors who spend more of their time spouting their political opinions than teaching anything of any real value to society.

As easily offended as you liberals are, I am not sure how you make it through the day? I many crying fits do you have on a normal day after encountering such things as confederate flags, NRA bumper stickers etc? It's gotta be tough.


So it's come down to squirrels and elephants... un fricking believable....

no name no slogan

As long as one stupid student draws one stupid picture in a resident hall the whole university is racist.


As long as one gang-banger tags a wall, the whole city is a gang.


I'd worry more about shootings than tags......

alright then

Oz, I agree 100%.


Maybe the fact that there are only 77 African American students enrolled at UWL plays a large role here? Maybe time to start scrutinizing the leadership at UWL and questioning some of his motives. May be time for minority students to take some of the actions that were taken at Missouri an hold leadership accountable for such a dismal disparity?


How many AA students applied? What was the average GPA of those who did? The problem may be more complex, or the AA students may not feel comfortable going to UW-L, which is another concern.


To refer to expressions of concern and outrage as "political correctness" is to trivialize justice, morality, goodness and safety for oppressed people in our communities. "...racism must be considered by its targets as a mortal threat." I totally agree with that. The epithet "political correctness" also shows a seriously ignorance of history.


Sounds like City Hall and the Police Department...... UWL's rug must not be as big as the City's to sweep this under.


Summer: "Political correctness is on the docket"

Everybody parrots "political correctness, political correctness" when there's a racist incident. It's not about that at all. Because the genocides of the past few hundred years have changed everything. It's a new ballgame now: racism must be considered by its targets as a mortal threat.

"Belsen Concentration Camp - Reel 1 & 2 - 1945"

"Polish R.C.Priest interviewed. Bodies being loaded off lorries. Rev. T.J.Stretch - Padre of camp speaks. 90ft. German Soldier speaking. Bodies loaded onto lorries. Germans - men and women speaking - woman officer marched off at gunpoint. Pits with bodies - guards and Burgomasters etc made to stand by grave"


Political correctness is on the docket. We all have our thoughts and should be able to express them. We are individuals who were raised in different ways, I don't believe in racism, you either like someone or you don't, not because of the color of their skin, actions matter. My Opinion.


"...a drawing of a black man being lynched by three men in white hoods accompanied by a drawing of a swastika and the words #black lives don’t matter."

Sumner: "political correctness is on the docket. We all have our thoughts and should be able to express them."

OK, I'll take you up on that, and express my thoughts: To consider outrage over such an image as "political correctness" is evidence of bigotry, lack of empathy, and complete brain-deadness.

African-Americans, Hmong, First Nations, Hispanics, and many other non-White cultures live among us. Get over it, or self-deport to Redneckistan.


Really? You are trying to defend this type of behavior? You should hang your head in shame.


Good luck recruiting minorities to campus Joe... Kind of a "Catch 22" for UWL, huh? You can't hide every incident like you do when you're protecting your administration. And when you announce something it ends up on the front page telling everyone you have a racist campus.


So, if you erase it and ignore it, it's bad. If you confront it with a forum it's bad. That really is a Catch 22. But I think the forum is the better choice.

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