A 19-year-old Iowa student has been arrested in connection with a string of racist vandalism at Buena Vista University.
Ryan Bills, of Las Vegas, was charged with criminal mischief, a serious misdemeanor, after university police reported at least four incidents of racial slurs and hateful symbols written on dorm room doors, reported the Des Moines Register.
One of those incidents involved sophomore Alyssa Parker, a black cheerleader who quit the team last month after university president Joshua Merchant banned protests during the national anthem at football games.
The 19-year-old Parker, founder and president of the Black Student Union at the largely white university, and her roommate found “n*gger” written early Monday on their door.
“I was just shaking pretty bad,” Parker told the newspaper. “I just wanted to go home and didn’t feel safe.”
The same slur was previously written on another black student’s door, and a Hispanic student’s door was tagged with “illegal.”
A white student’s door was vandalized with “KKK” and a swastika, police said.
University police charged Bills in the earlier incidents but do not believe he was responsible for the slur written on Parker’s door, reported WHO-TV.
The university is offering a $500 reward in that case, and Parker and her roommate will be allowed to take their finals at home in Des Moines, although they plan to return in the spring.
Neither woman is sure about their plans for next year.
Bills played football for the university last season and at the start of this season, but left the team in October, according to the athletic director.
His Facebook page shows Bills wearing a T-shirt sold by a III Percent group, a loosely organized right-wing gun militia, and supporting President Donald Trump.
The university official declined to elaborate on Bills leaving the team.
Parker and her roommate were among about a dozen students who kneeled at the start of the Sept. 30 homecoming game in protest of police violence and racial inequality.
The university president met with football players and cheerleaders who protested and warned they must stand for the anthem, but they could kneel beforehand.
Merchant told the students their actions had drawn unwanted scrutiny to the private university and increased racial tensions on campus.