Bloomington, Ind. (CBS CLEVELAND) — Indiana University school administrators took down a controversial dormitory billboard which asked students, “Can Santa Claus be a black man?”
The billboard, which was posted in the Foster quad dorm with the intention of sparking conversation on racial issues, was instead removed on Monday after many simply found the sign racist.
“I was completely appalled with it,” IU freshman Alexus Johnson, told WTHR-TV.
IU’s Community Education Program (CEP) said the public board was designed to spark a discussion of difficult issues.
“(The CEP tries) to get students to address and talk about difficult issues. Racial issues, issues of sexual identity, things like that,” university spokesperson Mark Land told WISH-TV. “There was no intent to offend anyone and we are really sorry if that was the result of this. We were just trying to spark a conversation and I know it wasn’t the one that they wanted.”
In addition to asking whether Santa could be a black man or not, the bulletin board also asked whether people would let a black Santa down their chimney, or if Santa would only visit the ghetto.
One question asked, “Wouldn’t all the presents be stolen?”
The photo spread quickly online as students began posting it to various social media outlets.
“I posted it on Instagram and so did a lot of other girls that live in Foster. A lot of people were really upset about it,” IU freshman Makail Dugan told WISH. “Everybody should have a free discussion, race appropriate questions. That definitely wasn’t the way to do it.”
On Monday night, IU issued a series of tweets apologizing for the billboard:
“Regarding a controversial bulletin board at Foster Quad: There was a misguided effort to generate discussion about racial stereotypes,” read one.
“The sign is being removed. The intention was to educate, not offend, but we recognize the problem and apologize to everyone affected.”
This incident has generated a lot of discussion on important issues. Thank you to everyone who shared their concerns with us. (3/3)
— Indiana University (@IUBloomington) December 3, 2013