WSU police, student says drawings were not ‘hate speech’

(Courtesy: Wichita State University)
(Courtesy: Wichita State University)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The drawings showed up out of nowhere, three images, including offensive racial slurs that KSN will not show on the sidewalks on campus.

It stirred immediate uproar on campus.

Alexis Phakornkham says, “After I saw pictures and learned that the teacher knew about it I could believe that it was a statement.”

The drawings had many at the school worried about hate speech even prompting a statement condemning the offensive drawings. A student came forward two days later and confessed. Saying it wasn’t meant to be hate speech but was an art project. The Director of External Affairs at school of Art, Design and Creative Industries, Lindsey DeVries.

“The nature of the project was discussed beforehand the intent of the project was to spark discussion about hate speech, not be hate speech,” says DeVries.

According to the student, and the school of fine arts it was all meant to be a provocative art piece….

“It definitely got people’s attention but I probably would not have done that,” says Phakornkham.

Still yet, DeVries says the goal of the project succeeded, but may have pushed the boundaries.

“I think where the project went off the rails was the context of which the work was presented and then of course the political climate of which this participates,” says Devries.

And SGA president Joseph Shepard, agrees.

“She had good intent from what I hear but often times good intent can lead to people being triggered in

emotional and mental damage and we have to be very careful of that especially again in the

climate that we are living in today,” says Shepard.

Statement from Chief Sara Morris, Wichita State University Police Department

The chalk drawings that appeared on campus Monday with racist and sexist content were found to be the work of a student completing an art project. The student came forward and was interviewed by police. The student said the drawings were intended as an art project to provoke discussion and not as hate speech meant to threaten or disparage women and minorities.

The student said the drawings were done in chalk so they wouldn’t cause any damage and would soon disappear.

When these drawings appeared on Monday, we said the university’s greatest interest was in talking to the person who left the drawings to understand the intent and provide education. We’re satisfied that this matter is resolved. Wichita State University is dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming campus for all.”