What’s Going On?: Wake Forest University Investigating Source of Instagram Post that Suggested Building a Wall to Separate it from Historically Black College Winston-Salem

A racist Instagram post suggesting Wake Forest University build a wall to separate the institution from Winston-Salem State University sparked anger and concern Saturday.

Wake Forest University officials condemned the post and said they are investigating the source of the image, which was determined to be fake.

The Friday post, which encouraged students to vote for a specific student for student body president, read: “He wants to build a wall between Wake and Winston-Salem State and he’ll make them pay for it.”

The student pictured did not participate in the posting of the image, was out of town when the incident occurred and is not running for student body president, the university confirmed.

“While the intent of the authors may have been a parody of a national issue, it was deeply offensive and unacceptable,” Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch said in a message to the campus community Saturday. “The impact on the community is widespread and harmful, regardless of the original intent.”

A team led by the dean of students is investigating the incident, Hatch said.

He said that the incident is deeply troubling, adding that he had reached out to Winston-Salem State University Chancellor Elwood Robinson.

“The message disparaged an institution whose values and mission we embrace and with whom we are building increased collaboration that brings our communities together,” Hatch said.

Winston-Salem State University alum Steven Gaither said he first saw the post in an alumni group chat and was disheartened to see such disdain toward a historically black college and university (HBCU).

“I think everybody was disappointed and angry, to say the least,” said Gaither, who graduated in 2009. “The two schools share this city, share this community, and it’s unfortunate that in 2019, people still think this is something that’s OK to say.”

Gaither said it’s especially hurtful after the two schools have worked so hard to collaborate.

“Things like that stop dialogues,” said Gaither, founder of HBCU Gameday.com.

“This is just another battle scar in a new arena that shows we still have a long way to go.”

Andrew Snorton, a 1993 Wake Forest University graduate, called the post disappointing, derogatory and inflammatory.

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SOURCE: Winston-Salem Journal, by Jenny Drabble