UK student receives “informal warning” after hanging banners detailing racist incidents on campus without approval

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Black Lives Matter is a movement happening from the streets of our nation’s capital to the campus of the University of Kentucky.

“We shared some stories that students were brave enough to tell me, stories of identity-based violence on campus,” UK student Khari Gardner said.

Khari Gardner is helping lead that effort on campus with his group Movement for Black Lives UK. On Aug. 15, the group hung banners around campus that detailed racist incidents students experienced.

Gardner said he got an email from the university saying they were initiating a code of conduct violation nearly two weeks after the banners were hung.

“It took me off guard,” Gardner said. “It seemed pretty retaliatory and delayed in nature.”

It’s didn’t take long for people to come to Gardner’s defense. The local chapter of the NAACP sent a letter to UK asking that the university not “re-traumatize and victimize students by denying them the opportunity to speak about their experiences on campus.”

In Gardner’s conduct meeting, he said he was given an informal warning for violating the building signage policy.

But in a statement, UK Spokesperson Jay Blanton said Gardner’s message and goals are correct and the university wants to work with students in creating a more just and equitable community.

“I view this as a resetting point in conversations with the administration,” Gardner said. “Over the summer, we’ve had some hostile, intense negotiations with them on how to move forward with diversity, anti-racism, and inclusion initiatives, but I feel like now we’re at a new point where we can continue working forward and working together.”

Moving forward, Gardner said the group will try to work with the university to follow any rules or policies but will still make sure their voices are heard.

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