Students found balls of cotton strewn Friday morning in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.
MU Police Department Capt. Brian Weimer said the incident, classified as vandalism until the investigation proves otherwise, occurred between 12:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. Friday.
MUPD had no new details to report Saturday since a previous interview Friday afternoon, Weimer said.
“Unfortunately, we can’t predict when more information will become available,” Weimer said. “It’s an investigation.”
Weimer said it is possible the incident might be classified as a hate crime and MUPD needs more information to decide whether it was racially motivated.
Although freshman Portia King worked Friday morning at the center, she heard about the incident, which occurred on the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to desegregate public transportation, before she arrived there.
“First, I received a picture message, and I didn’t know what it was,” King said. “I overheard people I was passing (walking to work), 'I’ll tweet it,' or ‘Yeah, there’s cotton outside of the Black Culture Center.’ ”
A witness reported two people in dark clothing running from the area sometime Friday morning, according to an MUPD news release.
Although MUPD does not know the reasoning behind the act, Weimer said one could infer contextually why the vandals chose cotton.
King said when King arrived at work, she was angered by what she saw.
“That’s just so oppressing and so degrading in so many ways,” King said. “It’s so stereotypical as well.”
Chancellor Brady Deaton issued a statement on the issue through the MU News Bureau and university e-mail accounts.
“This university is fully committed to tolerance and respect for every one of its members, and this kind of conduct will not be tolerated at MU,” Deaton said in the statement.
King said though much progress has been made since the civil rights movement in the '60s, a subtle form of racism on campus still exists.
“Nowadays, it’s indirect,” King said. “You see it in the way people talk to you or speak to you. You can tell when someone judges you, basically.”
Biology professor David Setzer said the act might have been intended as a joke but was in bad taste.
“I think it would take a profound level of ignorance of American history to perceive that as a joke,” Setzer said.
King said opression might go unnoticed in today’s society.
“You have to be oppressed to know it,” King said.
In his statement, Deaton’s said the sort of conduct demonstrated by the incident will not be tolerated at the university.
“MU celebrates diversity of our community, and this behavior offends us all,” Deaton said in the statement.