K-State cancels classes as students hold rally in a show of unity

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MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Taking steps toward #KSUnite. A university in Kansas cancels classes to pull students together.

K-State embraced the day of unity after several cases of racial tension on campus. Students rallied to help show support.

FOX 4's Shannon O'Brien attended the rally to learn more about the four cases that are causing tense times in Manhattan.

At K-State, the learning was not in the classroom on Tuesday, but in the field outside Anderson Hall where administrators talked to students about peace, family, and anti-discrimination.

The administration made a rare move to cancel classes so students and faculty could rally against continued prejudice that many feel has infected campus life.

"Right now this place is very divided and it is important our voices are heard as the students. We are the most important people on this campus and right now it feels like our voices are not being heard," K-State student Nicole Bauknight said.

"A couple white guys in a pick up truck rolled past and called me a n----r. It's instances like that where you don't know where it comes from you don't know why, it just does," K-State student Shunyce Battles said.

In the most recent incident, a car covered with racist graffiti was called a hoax after the owner told police it was a Halloween prank.

But there are many more disturbing incidents that have appeared on campus during this school year.

Last month, folks were welcomed to the student center by an anti-gay slur written on a column outside.

In September, racist flyers made their way across campus, and in may a noose was found hanging from a tree.

"We tend to focus on the larger things happening while there are small subtle things happening every day that we don't necessarily look at. I think that is just as important as the major things," K-State student Tyler Konda said.

"I was on the fence about attending the event only because to me this feels like a publicity stunt," Battles said. "We come together and 'kumbiya' and we talk about how great K-State is, but what are you all going to do after this?"

Besides this show of solidarity, Dean Pat Bosco says the addition of two new administrators to handle reports of discrimination will help address student and faculty concerns that never make it to the level of public displays of intolerance.

"It is important we deal with climate on our campus," Bosco said."We want to do better in everything we do here at the University , we think we are a pretty good place, we always want to be better."

"What will you commit doing to make it that way. Let's take this walk we started today together to make KSU the place you want to be. We are all in it together," K-State President Richard Meyers said.

"As part of the ongoing educational effort, after the rally, students headed inside for small group sessions to listen and learn from each other.

Watch the full event in the video below.

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