BU Professor Finds Racist Sketch In Classroom

By Jenna Hanchard

March 29, 2012 Updated Mar 29, 2012 at 11:39 PM EDT

A Binghamton University professor finds a vulgar and racist sketch on his classroom white board.

Action News Reporter Jenna Hanchard spoke exclusively with Professor Michael West who says he was disturbed and humiliated.

When Binghamton University Professor Michael West went to class March 8, he found a picture of man who appeared to be urinating on the continent of Africa plastered on the dry erase board in his classroom.

He describes the image as racist, sexist and offensive.

"I'm wondering if it's accidental that this image was placed in this class," says West.

The African-American studies professor says the majority of the students in his class that day were Black.

He questions whether the image was intentionally placed to offend him and his students.

While he acknowledges the image disturbed him, he did not formerly report it to police or Binghamton University officials.

"I thought that the best approach was to give it some publicity in the student newspaper and perhaps that could start a dialogue."

After pressure from his students, he e-mailed former editors of the student newspaper and copied several university leaders, including the university's president, Harvey Stenger.

While the university did not directly respond to his e-mails, Gail Glover, a BU spokeswoman says a student notified Bighamton University Police about the image.

Police opened an investigation into the incident March 15 and investigators continue to pursue the issue at this time.

In a statement to Action News, Glover wrote, "This incident is distressing and at this point, we're not sure who or why someone would have done something like this."

Meanwhile, Professor West says, "The attitudes behind this image I think are worthy of a public discussion, certainly in an institution of higher learning."

But will the writing on the wall spur residents to address racism in their community?

While Professor West says he is disturbed by the image, he did not take it as a threat.