AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – The bull statue outside the student center at the University at Buffalo has become a divisive symbol on campus. Through an art project sponsored by the university, students and staff paint the bull. There are specific guidelines that students must follow.
That includes, you must paint the bull by the cover of night. When the sun comes out, your masterpiece is revealed to the rest of campus.
But some students say through this project, one important message is being forgotten: respect.
Akram Shibly, A UB graduate has tracked the ever-changing colors and ideas painted on the bull on campus. He said, “It’s funny, because the sign says to show respect to the buffalo, and the members of our community. I think all over the country, we see on college campuses there is a need and a desire to have a conversation.”
The “paint a bull” campaign started by the university promotes freedom of speech, with some guidelines. Shibly said, “The buffalo may be painted between sunset and sunrise by one group at a time-whoever is there first, and show respect to the buffalo and members of our community.”
But Shibly said among the paint, a message is getting lost. He said, “It went from being this opportunity for students to express themselves artistically, to a platform for hateful rhetoric going back and forth.”
The conflict started Monday, after a campus group invited Robert Spencer, A self proclaimed expert on radical Islam- who runs the website “Jihad Watch” to campus. To promote the speaker, the group painted a controversial message on the bull. It read, “Stop Sharia Law.” Shibly said, “Muslim and non-Muslim students came together to cover that up and they painted over it, “Salah equals peace. But, the next night, somebody covered that with, “God hates liberals.”
UB leaders released a statement about the messages. It reads, “The Buffalo that was painted is one that is used for the purpose of freedom of speech expression. Multiple student groups have painted the Buffalo this academic year with a wide variety of messages. Messages typically appear on the Buffalo for a day or two before another student group repaints it with a different message. It’s an accepted part of the campus landscape.”
Robert Spencer did speak on campus, and both supporters and protestors filled the room to capacity. The group, Young Americans For Freedom for freedom invited Spencer for the club’s first official event. Since then, the Muslim Student Association has met with the group to talk about their message on the bull- and their differing views.