Recent racial incidents at Western Maryland College have RTC sparked a peaceful demonstration against racism and plans for a second.
College officials say the first incident was Nov. 1, when maintenance workers found a racial epithet burned into the eighth green of Western Maryland's golf course.
"They used some sort of gasoline product and torched it into the sod," said Joyce Muller, WMC's director of public information. "At that time, we did call the city police, who came on campus to help investigate."
On Nov. 22, a campus security officer found the same epithet scrawled with a fire extinguisher on the tennis court near the Ward residence hall, Ms. Muller said.
"We were very concerned about what happened and decided to inform the students of the second incident," she said. "We decided to sponsor a candlelight vigil to bring the community together and to speak out against incidents of racism."
About 250 students, faculty members and city residents gathered Monday evening for an hour in front of the campus library, she said.
"[Professor] Phil Sayer and I thought this is something that should be done, given this violation of our community," said WMC President Robert Chambers.
But students at the primarily white college say they are concerned the administration did not tell them about the problems immediately.
"A lot of people are upset and mad because we didn't find out until two or three weeks after it happened," said Calvin Lineberger, president of WMC's Black Student Union.
The students are organizing their own demonstration, "Take A Stand Against Racism," from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 7 in front of the library.
"It's just going to be an open forum where people can voice their concerns," Mr. Lineberger said.
Many students, particularly those from other countries, said they were appalled at the incidents, but happy that the Westminster campus is coming together, he said.
Students and faculty have also begun wearing plaid ribbons, symbolizing their dedication to multiculturalism, Ms. Muller said.
Some students say racial tensions were brewing on campus long before the burning on the golf course. Early in the semester, fliers denouncing blacks, Jews, welfare recipients and other minority groups were slipped under dormitory doors and posted in bathrooms, Mr. Lineberger said.
Students began receiving a newspaper in their campus mailboxes that advertised racial pamphlets and brochures, he said. The newspapers, which were mailed from off campus, have stopped, he said.
The campus of 1,200 has 60 to 80 black students and about 50 international students.
The Black Student Union has sent a letter to the college newspaper urging students to get involved, Mr. Lineberger said.
"It basically said we didn't want to tolerate what was going on . . . We said the student body should do something rather than wait for someone else to do something."
Westminster City police are not actively investigating the incidents because they don't have any strong leads, said Lt. Dean Brewer.
A $500 reward is being offered by the college and the Student Government Association for information on the incidents, Ms. Muller said.