February 9, 2011 5:17:00 PM
Disparaging words about several ethnic and racial groups were written in chalk on a University of Alabama sidewalk, the school said Wednesday, the second time in less than a week officials have had to deal with such language.
The university told students and staff members of what happened in an e-mail Wednesday, though it did not mention exactly what was written. A spokeswoman said words were chalked on three sidewalks near The Quad, a large campus green area.
The writing included the words "First Amendment," and the message from university vice president Mark Nelson said the school supports free-speech rights.
"However, we find the use of these words to be mean-spirited and unacceptable," Nelson wrote.
The words were removed as soon as they were discovered, and officials are investigating.
"As members of the UA community, the majority of our faculty, staff and students reject the notion that this type of behavior reflects our collective experience," Nelson wrote. "As a community, we respect and value each member of the UA family, and I trust that we will make decisions that reinforce and reflect that commitment."
University president Robert Witt sent a similar e-mail to students and staff after a white fraternity member was accused of yelling a racial slur at a black student on campus last Friday.
The school has refused to reveal the student''s punishment, but the national president of the fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, apologized personally to the black student.
The Black Faculty and Staff Association at Alabama has suggested disciplinary action against the student including a 12-week suspension from fraternity activities that would allow him time to research ethnic traditions; complete community service; visit civil rights museums across the South; and perform numerous other tasks.