The Office of Student Life is taking a stand against the acts of racial graffiti that occurred on campus last spring, spreading posters through campus in residence halls and classrooms.
The posters feature the following mission statement: “As members of a Catholic and Augustinian University, each Villanovan is responsible for creating a Community where mutual love and respect for individual differences guide our community lifestyle.”
The poster also features six additional statements reflecting the ideals of both the University and the student community. In addition, all students received a smaller version of this poster during move-in day and Orientation.
A corresponding sign that reads “hate not in our house” will be placed at the location where each act of racial graffiti was committed, most notably in the quad bathrooms and at the Oreo. This public display of hate in a core part of campus struck a chord with both faculty and students.
“This message is a continuation of the theme used during the peace rally that occurred on campus this past spring semester,” said Kathy Byrnes, associate vice president for Student Life. She explained that this kind of behavior is unacceptable in our community.
While the University community was shocked by the racial graffiti, Dr. Terry Nance, assistant vice president of Multicultural Affairs, says she isn’t surprised that hate acts occurred on Villanova’s campus.
“If you look at the national statistics, these things are happening across the United States,” Nance said.
Universities throughout America are experiencing a surge in racial graffiti and hate groups both on and off campus. Placing signs where racial graffiti has occurred is a way of informing people that something hateful occurred there and it is not going to be tolerated.
“These signs will continue to go up wherever racial graffiti is committed,” Byrnes said.
While the posters may arouse awareness on campus, Nance fears that this won’t be the end of racial graffiti on campus.
“I’m not sure we trust each other yet,” she said, explaining that it is the goal of the Multicultural Student League to create the trust necessary to build a community. The group hopes to encourage students to participate in the prevention of hate acts, regardless of their ethnicity.
Students first voiced their opinions about the racial graffiti during the peace rally that occurred in the Oreo this past spring. While the rally did attract attention from the community, only a small percentage of the student body participated in the rally itself.
“We’re not looking to make people feel guilty,” Nance said. “I did not look at people who didn’t participate in the rally as guilty.”
These posters are meant to pick up where the rally left off and to continue to provide students with the respect they deserve at the University.
While Nance does feel that these posters are a helpful way of dealing with the situation, it doesn’t take away the pain caused to specific groups targeted by the graffiti.
“You can clear hateful words, but you can’t clear away as quickly the violation people feel when they hear these words,” Nance said.
The University seeks to prevent future racial graffiti from occurring on campus by creating an environment where disrespectful and offensive acts are punished with a zero-tolerance policy. Nance believes that as a community we can work together to make sure these acts don’t happen again.
“Let’s learn together how to deal with it and triumph over it together,” Nance said.