The excitement of a new semester at Sweet Briar College has been overshadowed by a disturbing turn of events.
Sometime between 8 and 10 a.m. Thursday morning, someone posted the words "White Only" and "Colored" on doors and a water fountain in the Meta Glass dormitory.
"It's not indicative of what Sweet Briar represents, what the students represent, or how our students feel," said Katie Craig, president of the student government association at Sweet Briar.
Craig said she was initially sad when she heard about the controversy. Those feelings evolved into anger over the weekend, when the person who allegedly posted the discriminatory words sent an anonymous letter to the college president.
In a letter titled "With Great Remorse," a person claiming to be a Sweet Briar student admitted to carrying out the act, apologized for her actions, and stated that she was trying to "make a point."
"As an artist and a student, I find it offensive," said Craig, adding there are many ways to provoke a thought at Sweet Briar, without using phrases that people find deeply offensive.
"You could go to any faculty member, administrator, or staff member on this campus and address these concerns," Craig said. "This was not the proper way to do this."
While the motive behind the racially charged act is still unclear, Sweet Briar president James Jones believes it may have been provoked by a play.
A show called "In Sweet Rememberance," which detailed the significant role of African Americans in the school's history, was staged on campus last week.
"We're trying to find out what the truth is, so that we can deal with it appropriately as a college campus would," Jones told WDBJ7 Monday.
Jones plans to create a new "diversity committee," made up of students who can help the campus deal with racial topics in a less dramatic way.
He hopes the controversy will prompt the student body to have some positive and productive discussions.
"Disagreements are ubiquitous and if we don't know how to talk about them, shame on us," Jones said.
Jones is planning to meet with all of the students who live in Meta Glass hall Monday night. He has also invited the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities to talk with students about racial issues and less hurtful ways those topics can be discussed.