September 30th, 2008
NEWBERG, Ore. – Following an investigation by George Fox University administrators, four students have confessed to being involved in the hanging of a cardboard cutout of Senator Barack Obama from a tree on the university academic quad.
The cutout, which was attached around the neck by fishing line, was discovered and immediately removed by a custodian at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 23. A sign, which read “Act Six Reject,” was taped to the cutout. Act Six is a leadership and scholarship initiative that provides training and full scholarships to urban student leaders from the Portland area.
The FBI – which last week opened a preliminary investigation to determine if any federal civil rights laws have been broken – has been contacted. After consulting with the Yamhill County District Attorney, the Newberg Police Department has determined that no state laws have been broken and is not involved.
The Office of Student Life identified the students late last week and has completed a disciplinary hearing. Penalties for those involved included immediate long-term suspension and community service. Because of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the university is not allowed to identify the names of students nor the specific disciplinary actions taken.
“Regardless of the students’ intent, the image of a black man hung from a tree is one of the most hurtful symbols of racism in American history,” said Brad Lau, vice president of student life. “Displays such as this have no place on a campus that is dedicated to living out the teachings of Jesus.”
President Robin Baker announced the investigation results to the George Fox community at a campus meeting on Tuesday afternoon. His statement can be read at www.georgefox.edu/response.
George Fox University, Portland City Young Life and the Act Six program will host a forum for the Portland community to discuss the incident and racial reconciliation issues on Friday, Oct. 3, at 4 p.m. at Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church. The church address is 3138 N. Vancouver Ave., Portland.
Rob Felton, Director of Public Information