Racially-charged drawing investigated at Ball State University

A racially-charged drawing was found on a digital display at Ball State earlier this month.

A controversial drawing that showed up in a campus building at Ball State University is under investigation.

The drawing appeared at night in the university's Communication Building right before the Martin Luther King holiday, leading some students to wonder if the person who drew it was sending a message.

"Is it a warning? Is it a sign? Or is this just someone playing," asked Ball State junior Cameron Ridle, one of the students who saw the image and took a picture of it with his phone.

The image showed a stick figure hanging from a noose with the word "black" next to it.

"We were walking down this hallway and we stop right here and we're just like, 'This...this isn't right'," said Ridle of his reaction when he first saw the picture. "It took up about the majority of the screen right here, so it wasn't as if you just walked past it that you wouldn't see it."

The university said it couldn't have been there long, because the digital screen refreshes every 10 minutes.

"There are no cameras and you have a lot of people touching that display, so there's no way to figure out who did it," said Tony Proudfoot, associate vice president for marketing and communications at Ball State.

Ridle and fellow students did a story about the image on the student-run radio station's website.

"Immediately after we did the story, the next day it was disabled, so it was on, but you couldn't use it," said Ridle of the screen. "It's not about turning off the board to prevent people, it's to tell people why it's wrong."

Ridle said even though for some it just seemed like a picture in poor taste, for others it sends a chilling message.

"It's the stepping stone to something worse," said Ridle. "First people see it. They hear it and what's next? Physical contact. That was the reason for highlighting this story to make sure this is as far as it goes."

Ball State's Student Government Association and the Black Student Association have condemned the drawing.

The university said if the person who drew it is discovered, that person, if a student, would face disciplinary action through the student judicial process. Officials also reported the incident to University Police and to the City of Muncie, who then reported it to Muncie Police.