BELLARMINE  - DORM - ANNIVERSARY HALL - 10-9-19.jpg

Bellarmine University is hosting sessions for students and faculty, after an offensive message was posted on a bulletin board in Anniversary Hall. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Bellarmine University is taking action after receiving reports of an offensive, insulting message posted on a bulletin board on campus.

The campus is buzzing over the message that was posted on a bulletin board inside Anniversary Hall, which is a campus dorm.

"I think it was offensive but I don't think it was intentionally offensive," said Leah Shaeffer, a sophomore at Bellarmine.

The message on the board read:

"Tolerance does not require you to like, know, or agree with the following types of individuals -- atheists, racist, liberal, communist, poor, homophobic, Muslim, rich, Jewish, homeless -- tolerance requires you to respect these individuals."

Bellarmine's Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing and Communications, Michael Marshall, said a student worker put the message on the board. 

"It was a student, paraprofessional staff member who was making an attempt -- albeit misguided -- making an attempt to promote diversity," he said.

According to Bellarmine's president, Dr. Susan Donovan, this was a "misguided attempt to raise awareness around diversity issues on campus." In a statement, she says the university cannot respect systems and beliefs that express hate or intolerance of a person based on their identity.

Bellarmine is now hosting "call to action sessions" for students and the campus community to come together and share their concerns and ideas. The first session was Thursday, and there will be another on Oct. 17. 

Students say several of them gathered on campus for a protest earlier this week. One of those students was Khiarah Craig, who also reported the bulletin board's message.

"It made me feel like it was a direct result of all the protocols that come out about oppressed people and how they should take responsibility for the oppression that happens to them in society," Craig said. "This isn't a Bellarmine issue, it's a U.S. issue."

Marshall said university leaders have already spoken with several concerned students, and plan to continue those conversations. 

"At the end of the day we want to foster an inclusive community where students from all walks of life can feel comfortable," Marshall said.

"It feels good to be heard and I feel like the right people have heard our concerns and we're going to be moving forward soon," Craig said

The bulletin board with the controversial message was taken down Monday at 3 p.m. 

Marshall said university leaders are having discussions with the student who put the message on the board.

Thursday afternoon, students, faculty and staff attended an on campus forum. The goal was to address questions and concerns about the recent message.

Some students say the message was hurtful, but may have started some much needed dialogue. "We refer to it as the straw that broke the camels back," said Mayara Sponholz, Bellarmine University, Junior. She said, "It was a very important aspect because so many students at the university did not know that minority students go through biased incidents, that we face a lot of discrimination and this bulletin board brought it out to the surface, where everybody had to see what our reality looks like."

Students affected by the message are also encouraged to call Bellarmine's counseling center at 502-272-8480. 

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