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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 19 April 2006

BELLEVUE—A question given to students during a practice test for a math final at Bellevue Community College has students — and others — shaking their heads because of what they say is a lack of racial sensitivity.

It refers to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, although it doesn't mention her by name, a civil rights activist said.
The question read: "Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of the roof of the 300-foot Federal Building and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second."

"The e-mails are primarily angry that this could happen; that's the most common theme," college spokesperson Bob Adams told a local paper.

Student Chelsey Richardson, 25, said she discovered the question while studying for the math test in March. She was one of the students who brought the issue to officials at the community college.

The Condoleezza question went on to ask when the watermelon will hit the ground, based on a formula provided.

The question propagates a racial stereotype and denigrates Rice, said the Rev. Wayne Perryman, of Mercer Island.

"How many Condoleezzas spell their name that way and how many Condoleezzas are associated with a federal building? It doesn't take much to connect the dotted lines," Perryman said.

"It's not just the question; it's beyond the question," Richardson said. "It's the roots of where the question came from."

The college has refused to release the name of the teacher who wrote the question, but said the teacher hasn't been fired. The teacher has apologized and requested cultural sensitivity training, the college said.

College President Jean Floten held a 30-minute open-campus meeting last week that was attended by about 150 people.

Floten promised the college would redouble its efforts to improve racial and cultural sensitivity on campus, including increasing staff training and creating an ombudsman position.

"We called this meeting, and we had the courage to meet each other and learn from each other and put that learning to use," Floten said.

— The Associated Press

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