October 2, 2008
Four students suspended at George Fox over Obama stunt
NEWBERG, Ore. - Four students at George Fox University confessed to hanging an effigy of Sen. Barack Obama from a tree on campus and were suspended for up to a year, school officials announced Tuesday.
The students names were not released.
Other sanctions include community service and multicultural education, which must be completed before the students can return to campus, said Brad Lau, vice president of student life.
The students were singled out during a campus investigation late last week as those responsible for hanging a life-size cardboard cutout from a tree on campus with a sign saying "Act Six reject."
Act Six is a scholarship and leadership program for Portland students, many of whom are minorities.
"These students were very sorry and deeply grieved by the impact of this event," Lau said. "Regardless of their intentions, the image of a black man hanging from a tree is one of the most hurtful racist symbols of our history."
Lau declined to give any details about the investigation or the possible motivation of the four students.
The 3,355-student Christian university, which was founded by Quaker pioneers in 1891, stopped short of dismissing the students permanently. The campus is "a redemptive community, and we allow for the possibility of change," Lau said.
The FBI is continuing its investigation into possible civil rights violations, including whether the display intimidated minority students in exercising their federal rights, FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said.
Vanessa Wilkins, a 19-year-old sophomore in the Act Six program, said she is satisfied with the level of punishment of the four students. "I don't think they knew how far it would go," she said. "They didn't understand the repercussions of their actions. I don't believe the students thought this all the way through."
Related Elsewhere: Christian college president denounces Obama effigy