The dormitory room door whiteboard, long a form of communication among students, will not be permitted after this semester at Michigan State University.
Officials told local reporters that the whiteboards have become a tool for bullying, some of it racist or sexist.
“In any given month, there are several incidents like this. There was no one incident that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Kat Cooper, director of university residential services communications, told The Detroit News. “Sometimes these things are racial, sometimes they’re sexual in nature. There are all sorts of things that happen.”
Cooper also said that whiteboards are no longer as central to student life as some may remember. “I know that when I was in school, whiteboards were an essential form of communication with other students,” Cooper told the News. “It used to be that their (appropriate) usage outweighed their abuse, and that’s just not the case anymore.”
While Cooper also said that there was no one incident that prompted the change, on the Facebook page of the Lansing NAACP, a posting noted a recent incident and suggested a connection to the ban.
The post said:"We had an incident at MSU where a young African-American honors student had 'The N Word' written on her dorm room whiteboard. It's been a while but MSU Police have informed us that ALL dormitory white boards will be removed asap. Victory!!!"
Michigan State officials told various media outlets that the ban would not be in place until next semester as current contracts with dormitory residents do not include provisions on whiteboards on doors. The whiteboards will still be permitted inside rooms.
Of the many incidents of bigotry being reported on campuses these days, a number do involve dormitory room whiteboards, where many campuses have seen incidents reported of someone writing racial slurs or swastikas or other offensive things. Of course many of these whiteboards have basic innocuous things written on them such as "studying in the library."
On social media, students and others were criticizing the ban, saying that it would not eliminate racist or sexist bullying, but would deny students a form of communication.
On the Lansing NAACP website, one person commented, "If someone writes on the door, will they remove everyone's dorm room door?" Another wrote, "How is this a victory when every dorm resident will be punished because of one racist idiot? What does this accomplish exactly? It seems to me you're giving more power to the racist. Should we have limited skyscrapers to only 10 stories after 9/11 in an effort to end terrorism? Help me to understand the reasoning and logic."
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