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Students, staff speak their minds after signs are found at SUNY New Paltz

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Albany/HV: Students, staff speak their minds after signs are found at SUNY New Paltz
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Signs found at SUNY New Paltz spark both an investigation and a conversation. Students and staff speak their minds on a topic some say isn't talked about. Our Beth Croughan has more.

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -- "We're adults. So we can have these conversations. But we just don't," said Terrell Coakley, the Student Association President at SUNY New Paltz.

What Terrell Coakley said isn't talked about is racism, and the fact that it still exists. Earlier this month, several racially-offensive signs were posted around SUNY New Paltz.

"I was really upset," said Lori Wallen, a senior.

"Mostly just upset..." explained Rita Bradley, a senior.

Those signs sparked a conversation on campus. "If you didn't think it was funny. Tell people why. But if you didn't think it was a big deal, that's still something, like 'I don't understand why," said Coakley.

Wednesday, it was standing-room only in the Student Union auditorium.

"The starting point there is to talk about it as you see on the button. And that it reflects this sense that we need to work to better understand each other and better understand the ways like incidents we've had here the last few weeks, affect members of the community," said SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian.

The President told students a person of interest has been identified in the first incident reported on campus. That incident involved a water fountain and language that suggested racial segregation.

And while the investigation continues, Christian and Coakley hope the conversation continues, too. There are talks of expanding the orientation program on campus and holding a diversity conference.

"Let's share our experiences. So that when we come together our motive is more powerful and we'll actually try to get something done," said Coakley.

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