The performance of two white students who dressed up in blackface for a band contest at George Mason University has prompted protests from black students and pledges from school officials for a campaign to heighten sensitivity about racial issues.

The male students wore pillow-stuffed dresses and blackface in imitation of a band called the Weather Girls for a lip-synch competition sponsored by the school radio station, WGMU. They called their act "Two Tons of Fun."

They won a spot in the April 26 event during preliminary competition April 16 and 17. The station disqualified them April 19 after hearing complaints from black students that the act was offensive to blacks, station manager William G. Tolleson said yesterday. Tolleson said the contest rules would be tightened next year.

University officials and a black student leader said race relations at the Fairfax campus generally have been good, but the blackface performance prompted a protest by the Black Student Alliance, letters to the student newspaper -- one signed by 20 students -- and an expression of concern from a group representing black faculty and staff at the state-run school where there are 569 blacks among the 15,548 full- and part-time students.

University officials criticized the blackface performance, but said yesterday their investigation so far showed it violated no university rules and probably will not lead to disciplinary action.

"Yes, it was insensitive, but I haven't been able to identify anything specific that would be a violation of university regulations," said Kenneth E. Kelly, director of student activities. "That doesn't mean the university ignores what occurred."

Kelly said he plans meetings with students, faculty and staff to develop an "educational outreach" campaign on racial issues. A story on reaction to the performance first appeared in the campus student newspaper Broadside.

Kimberly A. Pinkston, president of the Black Student Alliance, said her group met with one of the students involved and explained that the performance "was offensive to black people and that the university should not be condoning such stereotypes."

"The members of the organization are concerned," she said. "I wouldn't say 'angry' or 'upset.' "

Larry S. Budd, one of the students who performed the blackface act, said he and Mark Davis "strictly did it out of fun . . . . I offended more black people than I thought I would." He said he would not do it again -- "It's not worth this kind of hassle" -- and said an educational campaign is a "fantastic idea."

Pinkston said the act also concerns her because the two students belong to a fraternity, Kappa Sigma, that has as one of its mascots a black lawn statue called "Jocko," whose photograph was deleted from the 1984 student yearbook after protests from black students. The fraternity did not sponsor the band performance. Fraternity treasurer Bill R. Grimm said Kappa Sigma also has white and Hispanic statues, and does not consider "Jocko" racist. Blackface Performance Stirs Protest GMU Vows to Combat Racial Insensitivity By D'Vera Cohn Washington Post Staff Writer

The performance of two white students who dressed up in blackface for a band contest at George Mason University has prompted protests from black students and pledges from school officials for a campaign to heighten sensitivity about racial issues.

The male students wore pillow-stuffed dresses and blackface in imitation of a band called the Weather Girls for a lip-synch competition sponsored by the school radio station, WGMU. They called their act "Two Tons of Fun."

They won a spot in the April 26 event during preliminary competition April 16 and 17. The station disqualified them April 19 after hearing complaints from black students that the act was offensive to blacks, station manager William G. Tolleson said yesterday. Tolleson said the contest rules would be tightened next year.

University officials and a black student leader said race relations at the Fairfax campus generally have been good, but the blackface performance prompted a protest by the Black Student Alliance, letters to the student newspaper -- one signed by 20 students -- and an expression of concern from a group representing black faculty and staff at the state-run school where there are 569 blacks among the 15,548 full- and part-time students.

University officials criticized the blackface performance, but said yesterday their investigation so far showed it violated no university rules and probably will not lead to disciplinary action.

"Yes, it was insensitive, but I haven't been able to identify anything specific that would be a violation of university regulations," said Kenneth E. Kelly, director of student activities. "That doesn't mean the university ignores what occurred."

Kelly said he plans meetings with students, faculty and staff to develop an "educational outreach" campaign on racial issues. A story on reaction to the performance first appeared in the campus student newspaper Broadside.

Kimberly A. Pinkston, president of the Black Student Alliance, said her group met with one of the students involved and explained that the performance "was offensive to black people and that the university should not be condoning such stereotypes."

"The members of the organization are concerned," she said. "I wouldn't say 'angry' or 'upset.' "

Larry S. Budd, one of the students who performed the blackface act, said he and Mark Davis "strictly did it out of fun . . . . I offended more black people than I thought I would." He said he would not do it again -- "It's not worth this kind of hassle" -- and said an educational campaign is a "fantastic idea."

Pinkston said the act also concerns her because the two students belong to a fraternity, Kappa Sigma, that has as one of its mascots a black lawn statue called "Jocko," whose photograph was deleted from the 1984 student yearbook after protests from black students. The fraternity did not sponsor the band performance. Fraternity treasurer Bill R. Grimm said Kappa Sigma also has white and Hispanic statues, and does not consider "Jocko" racist.