UPDATE: Students react to controversial display

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EAST LANSING, MI. (WILX) -- On the eve of Black History Month, controversy has surfaced over a poorly conceived tribute to noteworthy African Americans.

MSU Spokesperson Emily Gerkin Guerrant told News 10 that the display at the Wharton Center Gift shop was inappropriate and people were hurt and offended. (Source WILX)

The display at the Wharton Center gift shop, pictured above, was taken down Friday after complaints were received about it.

MSU student Krystal Davis-Dunn told News 10 she saw the display and it made her upset.

"I don't want to constantly be confronted with images, displays, you know, these messages like all the time like it's a painful response. It's a painful reminder," Davis-Dunn said.

Davis-Dunn first posted the photo of the display on Thursday night. It shows historical black figures hanging from a tree from what some say appears to be nooses.

Davis-Dunn said she was hurt that they would even think to put a display up like this in honor of Black History Month.

"The lack of culture and humility is very evident on campus that things like this continue to happen," Davis-Dunn said.

MSU Spokesperson Emily Gerkin Guerrant told News 10 that the display at the Wharton Center Gift shop was inappropriate and people were hurt and offended.

The display was described by Guerrant as a tree-like rack used to hold historical black figures.

“We sincerely apologize to our community members and have immediately removed the display. Additionally, after the Wharton Center reported the incident, it agreed to provide employees and volunteers with racial bias training that focuses on the impact and understanding of intentional and unintentional racial bias," said Guerrant.

She said that regardless of the intent of the display, it was insensitive.

However, students feel that MSU's apology is not enough.

"This isn't MSU's first run into something similar to this and also that this can't keep happening," said Adam Hafner, an MSU student.

Back in October of 2019, some students were outraged when what appeared to be a noose made out of toilet paper was found hanging from a door in a residence hall.

"How many apologies are they going to make, how many more apologies? You know, what is the action plan? I need something real. I need some transparency. I need to know what is happening," Davis-Dunn said.

Some students even say they feel unsafe on campus.

"Students of color here feel unwelcome here. I'm just going to say it," said John Ray, an MSU student.

Guerrant said the university has work to do.

“We have work to do, and MSU remains committed to creating a culture that is inclusive and safe for all faculty, staff, students and visitors. As we enter Black History Month, it’s important we not only recognize the many contributions of African Americans, but we remember history and confront all bias.”

This is a developing news story, WILX News 10 is working to get more details on this story, and will update the story as more information becomes available,

Stay with News 10 and WILX.com as we follow this situation. Refresh your page to make sure you are seeing the most current information.

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