Four pages of the leading news section were devoted to coverage of a scandal that brought national attention to Auburn.
On the front page were photographs from brothers of two fraternities who had their faces painted black and had donned Ku Klux Klan masks, with assault rifles in hand and even nooses around necks.
The images are just as shocking 10 years later as they were in 2001. However, it prompted us to ask: How far have we come, and how much further do we have to go?
A quick glance at the demographics of Auburn University is not encouraging. In 2001, the University had a black enrollment of 7 percent.
In 2011, 7 percent of Auburn students are black.
Today, Auburn University still has an enrollment of white students that towering at 86 percent.
The social factors and political decisions that lead to this number can and should be debated by those in the appropriate positions.
This does not mean the student body that is here now cannot look in the mirror and perform the self-evaluation it should have 10 years ago.
The sad truth is that Auburn University students still segregate themselves. The diversity initiatives and the efforts of the Multicultural Center can only go so far.
Laws and policies are crucial, but they do not change hearts and minds.
At some point, we must be willing to stand up and ask ourselves, “Why do so many of my friends look like me?” Perhaps it is a natural, sub-conscious culture of the South to gravitate toward people who are like us.
Separation has been ingrained in the social fabric of the South since colonial times.
Perhaps it is a Greek system that values sameness and institutionally separates the races.
Perhaps it is the churches we attend, which are statistically some of the most segregated communities in the nation.
The ugly issue of race in America is not a simple problem and there are no simple answers.
Regardless, if we are not willing to ask ourselves the tough questions and we continue to accept the status quo, there will be no change, and a repeat of the 2001 incident is not outside the realm of possibility.
There are encouraging signs, though.
Mixed-race step shows and diversity initiatives are only a few of the many baby steps that are being taken to blend the yet-to-be-melted pot at our University.
Even so, diversity and tolerance are not passive initiatives.
They take never-ending work from all parties to foster a more diverse population.
This Martin Luther King Jr. week, take time to reflect and ask yourself what you can do to make the Loveliest Village on the Plains just a little bit lovelier. Be bold. Call out intolerance when you see it. Embrace your fellow Auburn men and women.
Live the dream.