As complaints of hate crimes have increased nationwide since the Nov. 8 elections, Shepherd University is not immune.
Grafitti with racial slurs was found Dec. 2 in the men’s third floor restroom at Scarborough Library, according to Valerie Owens, director of University Communications.
Library employees removed the graffiti and University police filed a report on the incident.
Students were notified of the graffiti in a Dec. 2 email from Heidi M. Hanrahan, chair of Shepherd’s Civil Response Team and an associate professor of English.
John McAvoy, police chief of Shepherd University, sent an email with instructions on Dec. 12 to faculty detailing how to report related events. First, if an employee at the school sees or is told about the whereabouts of racist graffiti, they should call 911 (9-911 if using a university phone) and ask for an officer to come to the scene. The location of the graffiti should then be sealed off to maintain the evidence. The officer will then take photos for the investigation and gather any and all evidence at the scene of the crime. Once these tasks have been completed, the facilities’ staff will then clean off the graffiti immediately. McAvoy said following these steps will best ensure evidence is kept and allow the graffiti to be cleaned off as soon as possible.
In the email, Hanrahan noted related events at schools all across the U.S. There was a swastika drawn on the ground of Hillel at the University of Vermont, students dressing in blackface at Southern Illinois University, tweets from a Marshal University student saying that they would touch women inappropriately, and a female in a hajib assaulted at San Jose State University.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported on Nov. 16 that there had been 701 complaints of hate crimes across the country and more than 100 of those had occurred on university campuses.
Events such as the racist graffiti do not just happen at Shepherd University, but nearly every school in the country, Hanrahan said She wants students “to know that Shepherd should continue to be a safe place to be who you are without fear of ridicule or threat of violence.”
If students need to report an incident such as or relating to any of the above, Hanrahan said students should contact the University Police “should any event impact one’s personal safety.”
Over the course of the last several years, Hanrahan said Shepherd has on occasion had graffiti on campus. The Scarborough Library has had graffiti there not just in this instance, but on two other prior occasions as well, although it was not racial. The underpass has had at least one instance of graffiti, but it did not contain racial subject matter or try to intimidate a specific group.
In September 2011 racist graffiti was found in a White Hall restroom, and graffiti was found in Scarborough library/CHE as it was being built from 1999-2000, Hanrahan said. There was also anti-semitic graffiti on a sidewalk close to the tennis courts right by West Woods in November 2011.
Anthony Bracken is a Staff Writer for The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org