One of the most notable protests to affect GSU was the 1992 trash can incident, which was chronicled in the Universities newspaper, The Signal. A racial slur was written on a campus trash can; African American students on campus demanded reforms and refused to leave newly hired President Dr. Carl V. Patton’s' office until their demands were met.

It was the catalyst for analysis and revisions. A concerted effort in programming was implemented to combat the decline in the number of minorities seeking graduate degrees. It created solutions for greater diversity and understanding through multi-cultural awareness programs. Progress was made from protesting, resulting in an African American Studies Department. [To learn more about GSU's recent history in regards to diversity, and the impact of African American leadership and the inception of the African American Studies Department, see Tonya Cooks papers, G2007-16A].