Hanging effigy only a prank at U-Minnesota Crookston

Watch those rooftops

Yep, some people need the supposedly enlightening effects of a college education more than others.

Some bozo student at the University of Minnesota – Crookston has confessed to painting an effigy to look like a “person of color” and hanging it from the student union — as a “prank” on the statue’s owner, police and university officials told the Fargo Forum.

Peter Phaiah, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, told the Forum:

… the incident was the result of “incredibly poor judgment” but was not racially motivated. The 3-foot wooden figure, which is carved and painted in the likeness of a person of color, was hung by its torso from the student center. The sculpture belongs to another student who received it as a gift from a family member. The student said he hung the statue as a prank on the statue’s owner. “The student did not take into consideration the implications of what he believed was a harmless prank,” Phaiah said. “On the contrary, the students, faculty and staff on campus see this as anything but funny.”

(Now exactly how they could tell it was not racially motivated when it was painted to resemble a person of color is beyond me, but I’m no expert.)

A conduct committee is considering disciplinary action, but police said criminal charges won’t be filed.

  • Mrs Susan Wolfe

    I sent this letter to the Public Relations Department at Crookston after being appalled at the lack of understanding of the totally-blissfully-unaware attitude racial insensitivity.

    to asvec@umn.edu
    Respectfully (our maybe not so much),

    I cannot believe that hanging “a figure of a person of color that
    was found suspended from the campus student center on Thursday morning,
    September 30, was intended as a prank and not a racial statement.”

    Are you JOKING? I am a white teacher of European descent that teaches at South High School in Minneapolis. I wrote a letter of recommendation for one of my lovely and talented Native students who deserved and was awarded the Gate's Scholarship. She chose to attend Crookston to get her undergraduate degree – based almost solely on one visit and a strong recommendation by one of our counselors – also a Native American.

    Her experience last year was one of almost unbearable racism. I cannot begin to tell you how many times we encouraged her to work with the college's diversity office – but nothing was done to stop the horrible suffering she experienced at the hands of white students from out-state MN and from the Southern states (where supposedly these students did not meet the requirements to attend a premiere “Equine Science” college in their own states.)

    I am so disappointed that such a blatant RACIST event could occur on your campus with nothing but an administrative slap on the wrist. My Gates Scholar is currently at Morris – where there is actual racial tolerance. YOU CAME FROM MORRIS – Why and How do you not see this as an incident worthy of discipline?

    I have forwarded all information about this incident to the Chair of our counseling department. I can ASSURE you that I will ACTIVELY Dissuade MY students from even CONSIDERING your school until you can get your racial tensions/conflicts under control.

    I am so, so angry. I am so, so sorry for the students of color at your campus.

    Susan Wolfe
    South High School Career and Technical Education Department Chair

  • A. Svec

    As a point of clarification, the incident involved the suspending of a wooden figure by its torso from the main arch of the student center. The figure is essentially a piece of ethnic art carved and painted in the likeness of a person of color. It is a wooden sculpture belonging to another student who had received it as a gift from a family member that had been traveling in the Caribbean, where the figure originated. To say the student painted it and hung it as an effigy is inaccurate and misleading, as he suspended the sculpture by its torso as it was without altering it. That is one of the reasons the incident has been determined to be an ill-conceived prank.

    The student who claimed responsibility for the incident said he took the figure and suspended it from the student center as a prank on the other student. Upon reflection, the offender said he now sees how others could interpret this as a racial statement but maintains he intended it only as a prank. While intent is a difficult thing to ascertain objectively, the evidence and the questioning of the student led administrators and the Crookston Police to believe this was not racially motivated but incredibly poor judgement.

    Campus administrators are taking the incident very seriously and will work within the U of M, Crookston’s student conduct code for appropriate disciplinary measures.

    Andrew Svec

    Director of Communications

    University of Minnesota, Crookston