ARKADELPHIA (KATV) — A school and students at odds over a sign that once hung in the student center at Henderson State University. The sign reading "sagging pants" would not be tolerated upset many students on campus.
After only being up for two days, the sign has been taken down. Students told Channel 7 they believe the sign was targeting them, but administration says they're just holding their students to a higher expectation.
It's a bare campus, but in about two weeks these sidewalks will be full of eager students beginning another school year at HSU, including Daisha Haggans and Kristin Bell.
"Everybody's behind you, you have a family when you're here," Haggans said. The seniors who are both leaders on campus smile as they talk about their time as a Reddie.
"To me, Henderson is home and that's why i want to see it thrive and see a higher level of excellence," Haggans said.
However, that smile may have not been on the faces of students on their first day back if the sign was still hanging in Garrison Hall.
"The group that I'm representing was outraged by the sign," Haggans said. Those students wanting the sign taken down because they say "sagging pants" is culturally associated with African Americans.
"Its politically insensitive to certain groups. They felt like they were being targeted," Bell said.
"We certainly want to apologize for any misunderstanding or miscommunication, but there was not a particular group or individual that was targeted," Dr. Lewis A. Shepherd, Jr., Vice President of Student and External Affairs said. Shepherd continued to say the school does not have a dress code, but he has high expectations for his student body.
"We do a dis-service to students if we do not teach those values while they're here," Shepherd said.
"If we're trying to teach our students how to be more professional, i just don't think a sign was the right communication," Haggans said,
Both Haggans and Bell think instead of a sign the school should have held something like a forum to talk about this. Dr. Shepherd said they'll be doing just that and he hopes there can be better communication between administration and students.
Haggans and Bell also told Channel 7 they hope this will put light on what they say is an even bigger issue, not having a diversity office on campus. They said they will be working this school year to make sure they bring one to HSU in order for issues like this to never be a problem.
The State Legislature banned saggy pants in elementary and secondary schools in 2011. The sponsor of that bill was Representative Tracy Steele, who is African American.