Racial graffiti strikes again

Alessandro Roco

Five separate incidents of vandalism involving racial slurs over the past week have added to the growing tally of incidents that have occurred in on-campus residence halls.

The first and second incidents were both reported from Moriarty Hall and happened earlier last week. Both contained remarks offensive to blacks.

The third involved the drawing of a swastika, much like the one found in the Quad earlier this year, and was reported from the third floor of Sullivan Hall at approximately 11 a.m. last Friday.

The fourth and fifth incidents also reflected anti-black sentiments. The fourth incident occurred on the second floor of Good Counsel Hall last Saturday night, while the fifth incident occurred sometimes either late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

“As a community, we have to stop just talking and actually do something about it,” said Charisma Presley, assistant director of Multicultural Affairs. “People are just tired of other people saying, ‘This is wrong,’ and nothing gets done because it just happens the next week.”

Presley also said that while the Center for Multicultural Affairs is the key organization behind promoting increased cultural awareness, other campus departments need to be more involved with the process.

“I was deeply saddened when I heard about the recent incidents of inappropriate graffiti in our residence halls,” University President Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., wrote in an e-mail to The Villanovan. “This type of hurtful behavior goes against our community’s Augustinian values and will not be tolerated. Villanova is a place where people are welcomed, supported, and we all must work together to create a caring, respectful campus community.”

Donohue also stated in his e-mail that the incidents are currently being addressed by the Department of Judicial Affairs, the Offices of Student Life and Residence Life, the Department of Public Safety and the Center for Multicultural Affairs.

Two students voluntarily stepped forward as the perpetrators of one of the acts of vandalism. They are currently undergoing judicial review, Dean of Students Paul Pugh said.

“We just don’t tolerate this,” Pugh said. “Each situation is different and must be considered on an individual basis, but it will be handled firmly.”

Since the incidents, key administrators have met and decided to deliver a clear, decisive message to every student on campus. On Wednesday afternoon, Rev. John Stack, O.S.A., vice president for Student Life, composed a letter directed at the residents of Sullivan Hall.

Stack said that once the letter circulates through Sullivan Hall today, he will draft a similar letter to all on-campus residents that will most likely be released tomorrow.

The letter directly addressed how Villanova is meant to be seen as a community, but when “someone in our community draws a swastika and writes the ‘n’ word in public space, love and respect are disregarded.”

The rest of the letter addressed the University-based and legal repercussions that will result if more of the vandals are found. Stack’s letter asked that students be more vigilant and that they “voice disdain and help stop hateful actions.”

Stack noted that the administration as a whole would not stand for such action and that the University condemns such behavior. He also asked that students either come forward and inform administrators of these acts or simply confront the offender themselves face-to-face.

“There is a small percentage of people that have chosen to do this,” Pugh said. “It is almost as though they have a sense that they can get away with it.”

While these recent events have generated quite a stir amongst members of the Villanova community, there is also a positive message that can be found in the situation.

Officials agree that the increased attention and response throughout the past semester have aided the University in conveying the importance and magnitude of the situation.

Christopher Bellotti contributed additional reporting to the article.