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‘Freedom Wall’ erected

“Jew,” “redneck,” “homo,” “nigga,” “terrorist,” and “cracker” are just some of the words posted on the walls of the Georgia Hall lobby.
The resident assistants of Georgia Hall decided to have a week full of programs and an exhibit in the lobby dedicated to the remembrance of civil rights and the discussion of respect and equality among residents.
“We wanted to do a civil-rights week and bridge the gap of the negative language we use,” RA Jamesha Shelton said. “We use some of these words to define us, but they once were used to degrade groups of people.”
On Sunday, RAs displayed what they thought necessary for that purpose.
“When we first put everything up Sunday, most residents were shocked that we would do this, but we wanted to evoke emotion so we would be able to talk about [these issues],” Shelton said.
The RA’s felt a need because in this population there are a bunch of groups that are sticking together and not exploring each other’s differences.
“We’re doing this to educate the residents about these differences,” said Zach Crapa, complex director of Georgia Hall.
Derogatory terms, symbols from racial equality and racial supremacy groups, flags, a burning cross, and symbols of peace and hope cover the walls in the lobby. The elevators are labeled for blacks and whites.
Some Georgia residents found seeing the language on the walls of the residence hall offensive.
“Our ancestors went through this but to see it again and having you put your name on it isn’t right,” Nia Terrell, freshman biology major, said. She continued, saying the exhibit was “inappropriate and they completely took it over the top.”
A “freedom wall” section allows students to express a positive thought that would encourage others to speak out about issues on campus and invoke change.
Seeing these words is what is making the difference for a lot of students. Less is taken in when people hear words rather than see them, according to Crapa.
“I want us to be just as conscious about the language and terms we use as about the things we see in this life,” he said.
Vice President for Student Affairs Kurt Keppler said, “There is no better place than a university for ideas to be discussed and exchanged, even if they are at times controversial or difficult to address.”
This display is stirring up the residents, but the major aspect that disturbs them is the dummy hanging by a noose from the ceiling. The image is meant to be void of color and wears the name tag of “your name.”
“I want to go in there and take down the white girl they have hanging,” said Jesi Faulkner, freshman early childhood education major. “I don’t want to live here while that stuff is up.”
The dummy was taken down between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday and is now sitting on a couch in the lobby with a sign reading “Now I am free, now I can sit wherever I please.”
“There was controversy about hanging the person, but it is a symbolic thing,” Shelton said. “We didn’t use color because we wanted to represent everyone. We want everyone to relate to it.”
But residents don’t seem to be relating to it very well.
“It caught the residents’ attention, but in a negative light,” Brittany Vance, freshman biology major, said. “The whole display takes away from Black History Month instead of helping it.”
Taylor Clark freshman, undecided major, said “It’s pretty offensive. I think they could have found a better way to get their point across.”
Faulkner agreed, saying that if there was a line, they didn’t just cross it; they sprinted across it.
The display seemed to be promoting racial division instead of healing it, according Gabby O’Steen, freshman political science major.
“If you walked into the lobby and were shocked, that’s the point,” Shelton said.
A few residents have spoken to Crapa about their distaste for the exhibit.
“They tell me they’re uncomfortable and I tell them to go to one of the programs,” Crapa said.

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