University takes action against racist graffiti

Lee Betancourt

Students, staff and University administration have banded together to take action and voice their indignation this week following the discovery of five additional instances of racist graffiti.

Dean of Students Paul Pugh said that although he cannot disclose the details of the punishment, the cases of the two students who created the graffiti in Moriarity Hall “are concluded.” He also said that “action was taken.”

“We handle each case personally,” he said. “They’re not all the same, although we strive to approach them fairly and with consistency.”

Despite remaining efforts to find the perpetrators of the graffiti, the University is looking forward and working on initiatives aimed at restoring Villanova’s unity.

Today, the “March for Unity” will be held at 2:45 p.m., starting on the grassy knoll on South Campus before moving into the Quad and up to the Oreo.

The leaders of the march ordered 400 T-shirts, which will be worn by members of the Diversity Peer Educators, SGA, MSL, Greek Life, Student Development, Residence Life and possibly athletes, said Melissa Long, president of the Diversity Peer Educators.

Other students can request to wear a T-shirt but “they have to be marching,” Long said. Everyone else is encouraged to wear a Villanova shirt or Villanova colors.

Long said that, after the march, there will be an open forum for discussion on the graffiti incidents and larger diversity issues at 5 p.m.

The idea originated with Assistant Direcor for Student Development Walidah Justice and others, Long said, who approached her and others to put it into fruition. The idea is a part of the larger “Not in our house” campaign.

“They wanted to see something come from the students,” Long said. “The graffiti breeched the community, so we want to bring it back to Villanova, bring it back to the community in one effort.”

Members of the administration are making other efforts to bring the idea of community back to the school. Tom DeMarco, director of Resident Life, said that in addition to the hand-delivered letters in Sullivan Hall, Resident Assistants coordinated with Multicultural Affairs to create programming in Moriarity Hall.

Even before last week’s graffiti, the University had a plan to create programs for the “Community of Respect” during Orientation for freshmen and the first few weeks of school for everyone else, Pugh said. The activities may even be tied into St. Thomas of Villanova Day, he said.

Pugh stressed that both the students and the administration have a responsibility to prevent incidents from reoccurring.

“Students don’t have the official, formal apparatus, whereas the administration does,” Pugh said. “But they do have informal organizations and peer pressure.”

He used the example of basketball to show the shared responsibility of students, saying that students policed each other when it came to acting appropriately at games.

“We have to show that we have a higher standard,” he said. “As I often say, we have to be able to say, ‘Villanovans don’t do that.’ “

Pugh also said that one other way to prevent incidents in the future would be to mark where they occurred in the past in order to remind students of the situation.

“Maybe we’ll even put up a sign that ‘an incident occurred here that Villanova doesn’t accept,’ ” he said.