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Racial tensions have flared at Northwestern University, where last week an unidentified person painted "Die Negroes" on "the Rock" -- a famous campus landmark. Next to that phrase, someone had drawn the word "Black," then circled it and put a slash through it. The phrases, which were discovered last Wednesday morning, come just three weeks after the words "Die Fags" appeared on the Rock. The Rock has a long tradition at Northwestern. Students paint it in the middle of the night to advertise their clubs or events, often spending the night guarding the Rock so no one will come to paint over their messages. "I can't believe that someone would have written such hateful things on it," Northwestern sophomore Liz Hjerpe said. "The fact that someone used a timeless school tradition to relay such a message is disgusting." Immediately following the incident, Northwestern President Henry Bienen issued a statement denouncing the vandals -- who have not yet been apprehended. School officials are now holding forums and meetings to discuss race relations on campus. Before this incident, the university had already established a task force to focus on campus minority issues. The university has also planned a rally for this Friday at the Rock. "When we see derogatory comments written anywhere, about anyone, we're deeply distressed," said Mary Desler, Northwestern's assistant vice president for student affairs. "We find such incidents abhorrent, but we realize that we don't live in a utopia." Desler, who has served at Northwestern for nearly three months, said she has seen a strong commitment to diversity at the school. But outraged students claim Northwestern has a long history of racial tensions. "It's most evident in the cafeteria, where black and white students voluntarily sit at separate tables," junior Christine Bielinski said. "Black students I've talked to say they encounter racism every day on this campus, whether it's in class or at lunch." Bielinski added that minorities at Northwestern separate themselves out of necessity -- enhancing the race problems. "The university loves to preach about diversity on paper, but anyone on campus will tell you it's not happening," Bielinski said.

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