Racist message on Grace College chalkboard considered hate crime

WINONA LAKE, Ind. (WANE) -A Grace College student found a racial slur written outside of his dorm room. Now, he is fighting back with a message of his own: Racism is not welcome here.

Chandler Bussey, who is a freshman, said he has encountered racism multiple times since the beginning of the school year but this was the final straw. Bussey found a message early Monday scrawled on a chalk board. It read, “N——s don’t belong here.”

“I was like wow,” said Bussey. “Is that really how you guys feel? So I just took a picture of it.”

The image of the message was shared on social media, and the incident made its way to the Winona Lake Police Department and the Grace College Campus Safety Office.

Bussey is attending Grace College on a Track and Field Scholarship. He said when he came to visit, he loved the campus and loved the community. However, after moving from Indianapolis, he realized some in the Winona Lake community were not as accepting.

“There’s been circumstances leading up to this,” he said. “It’s just been people screaming out the n-word and stuff.”

Drew Flamm, Vice President of Institutional advancement, said there is about 1,300 undergraduate students on campus. The number of African American students is significantly less.

“African American Students are 4 to 5 percent of our population,” said Flamm. “So there are times that they haven’t felt included or heard. This incident is an aberration. It’s something that just highlights the need for us to grow as a campus.”

Flamm said there have already been several meetings as a result of this incident and the college is working with Bussey and other students to address the issue of racism.

“It doesn’t matter what skin tone you have,” said Bussey. “We’re all diverse in different ways. Whether it is your background, your skin color… even your story or where you want to go.”

The president of Grace College issued a direct response after learning of the racist message.

This message, with a racial slur blurred out, was found on a dorm room chalk board at Grace College early Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.
In a post on the Grace College website, President Bill Katip said the incident was being investigated as a hate crime. Katip went on to say that racism would not be tolerated at the private Christian school.

“As we investigate, let me be absolutely clear: racism will not be tolerated at Grace College,” Katip wrote. “We are first and foremost a community of believers in Christ. We are one body called to edify and love one another.

READ | President Katip’s full message

“There is NO place for hate on our campus. If you believe there is, then you do not belong on our campus.”

Katip said he was “angry and heartbroken” by the incident. He asked for anyone with any information on the act to contact the Grace College Campus Safety Office or the Winona Lake Police Department.

“Let me be very clear: harassment of any kind will not be tolerated – toward this student or anyone involved in this investigation,” Katip added. “Please pray for our campus, our students involved, their families, and those involved in this investigation as we committed to not ignoring this situation.”

Late Monday night the school released another statement on the incident. In it is said the school has been focusing on being inclusive: “Throughout the past summer, we took action to address and improve racial sensitivity and inclusiveness on campus.  These efforts included discussions with African American alumni about their student experience at Grace, an all-faculty and staff meeting to discuss racial sensitivity and inclusiveness, reorganization of various multi-cultural clubs on campus into the Council for Diversity and Inclusion, and the creation of an advisory group on race and diversity comprised of leaders on these issues.”

It also said along with a student body meeting, meetings were held with African-American students on Monday and with students who live where the incident happened– Omega Hall.

Read the full statement here.