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Racist Oberlin College postings 'just a joke,' student says

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OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) -- An Oberlin College student acknowledged posting anti-Islam fliers and racist cards around the campus of the historically liberal Ohio university earlier this year, saying he meant them as a "joke" to provoke a reaction, according to statements he made after being detained by campus security.

The student also took credit for the display of a large Nazi flag, which he also said he meant as a joke, and posting the face of Oberlin's president onto a picture of Adolf Hitler, according to the statements contained in an Oberlin city police report.

The student, detained after allegedly being seen posting anti-Islam fliers in the college's Science Center Feb. 27, denied involvement in other, earlier racist postings and said he was trying to show people had overreacted to them.

The student, whose name was blacked out, said the people who put up earlier fliers were just looking for attention.

"I put out these fliers to get a similar over-reaction to prove this point," the student said, according to the report.

A series of postings and incidents over the winter caused an uproar at Oberlin, enrollment 2,900, one of the nation's first universities to admit blacks. Black History Month posters were defaced, a "whites only" sign placed above a water fountain and a swastika drawn on a window. In early March, classes were canceled after a report of someone wearing what looked like a Ku Klux Klan-type hooded robe on campus.

A second student detained the same day denied helping make a swastika banner placed in the center and also denied he knew what his friend was up to, saying he was just tagging along, according to his statement.

Police declined to file charges but Oberlin College spokesman Scott Wargo said Friday both students are going through the school's disciplinary system.

"You had fliers with threats of violence and hate speech and rape that are being posted on doors and in hallways and on mailboxes," Wargo said, adding: "It didn't make it less real for those who had to endure it firsthand, and creating an atmosphere where people are afraid and feel threatened - it isn't a joke."

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