The university community concluded a social art project on Friday called Writing on the Wall by tearing down a concrete wall covered in vulgar and offensive language.
The project’s purpose is to bring awareness to hate speech and its negative effects on society.
About 200 students, faculty and staff gathered together to tear down and break apart the wall. Starting Monday, Sept. 28, individuals were encouraged to paint sayings or phrases they found offensive on the wall.
Several notable individuals came to show their support from the University of Arkansas community. Leslie Yingling, director for the Center for Multicultural Affairs was in attendance.
“I think it’s been an interesting and promising week for students to engage in what difficult obstacles they have had to overcome with hate speech,” Yingling said.
Performances were given by the University of Arkansas’ own Inspirational Chorale. The Inspirational Chorale’s director is Jeffrey Murdock. The group’s purpose is to keep the black sacred music tradition alive. The group has played for a diverse and illustrious audience, including dignitaries and heads of state.
“This event was different and very needed,” Jordan Brown, a member of the Inspirational Chorale said. “It was very educational and brought awareness in the way that people’s words can hurt other people.”
Members of the community each grabbed onto ropes used to bring down the wall. The symbolic and literal act was meant to encourage people from different backgrounds to work together and be more sensitive to language, event organizers said.
Logan Mills, vice president for the Residents’ Interhall Congress, said that the event was a good way to start meaningful conversations about the way that words can affect people.
“I can see where talking about diversity can open up that channel for more conversation and more understanding,” Logan said.
Those attending the event used hammers and mallets to break off pieces of the wall to take home with them at the conclusion of the ceremony, Amanda Bobo is the Coordinator for Residence Education in Pomfret Hall and the administrator for the event. Bobo gave her thoughts on what it meant to her to be able to take a piece of the wall home.
“It is a visual representation of the commitment that I have made to be an advocate for change and a reminder that any words that I say have power and I need to use that power wisely,” Bobo said.
Bobo explained that several departments came together to make the event happen. Those offices included the office of New Student Family Programs, the Associated Student Government, The Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education and the Residents’ Interhall Congress. Planning for the event began back in April of this year. The groups worked together to secure funding for the project and collect donations.
Those in attendance gathered for food and refreshments after tearing down the wall.