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Controversial IU Billboard Prompts Anger, Possible Changes
Updated December 5, 2013 6:46 AM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - Strong reaction to a controversial billboard in an Indiana University dorm could lead to possible changes on the Bloomington campus.

School administrators ordered it taken down Monday night because it contained a racially-charged message.

Inside the Harper dormitory, posted messages in the lobby are meant to spark discussion on difficult issues. But the latest billboard at Foster Quad, asking "Can Santa Claus be a black man?" triggered instant controversy.

Monday evening, after students saw the poster, many took to Twitter and Instagram, spreading pictures and posts about the billboard. IU officials took notice and started tweeting too, saying they were investigating the issue.

Students say the problem wasn't so much about the question "Can Santa be a black man?," but the follow-up questions shown on stockings below, including, "Would he only visit the ghetto?," "Would you let him come down your chimney?" and "Wouldn't all the presents be stolen?"

Students say that reinforces negative, hurtful stereotypes.

Within two hours of all the posts on social media, the university had the billboard taken down. They also issued a statement saying the intent of fostering a discussion on race was good, but the execution was misguided.

Now, changes could be on the way across campus.

A member of the CommUNITY Education Program, which promotes diversity, originally put up the billboard. IU says its team members will meet to discuss what happened and see what lessons can be learned.

Students were invited to a discussion about the billboard Wednesday night at 10 p.m. in the Harper dorm to address the issue.

Students say the controversy already has people talking. Now they hope to have that conversation in a more appropriate way.



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