Racial graffiti hits South

Jessica May

An incident involving racial graffiti several weeks ago challenged the sense of community valued by Villanova students.

On Jan. 17, custodial services reported a graffiti incident on the second floor restroom of McGuire Hall, a male freshman residence hall on South Campus.

While the incident was immediately reported to Public Safety, it was the racial basis of the message that concerned RAs and administrative officials.

“Now that we have notified the residents, the focus is to educate the community, meet with the Multicultural Affairs Office and strategize in case anything else occurs,” said Tom DeMarco, director of Student Life.

Most of the male students living in the hall were surprised when they heard of the incident. The head resident of McGuire Hall made it clear to residents that such behavior would not be tolerated by any means.

Dr. Terry Nance, assistant vice president of Multicultural Affairs, said that this incident is only a mask for a broader issue that is at hand.

Nance also noted that there was most likely a group of students who saw the graffiti and didn’t think anything of the racial message and thus did not act.

“Part of being a community is talking about the good and the bad,” Nance said. “I want people to be bothered by what seems to be a meaningless, small incident.”

The Center for Multicultural Affairs feels that it is important to keep the lines of communication open among students in order to allow their points of view to be heard and discussed in an open and interactive environment.

“It is important to enrich the students with dialogue,” Nance said. “While we need to be concerned about the mechanics of the situation, I am personally more concerned with the violation of community that this matter created.”

The issue brought back memories of a similar situation that occurred at Villanova during the fall of 2005.

The incident, known now as “40 doors,” involved the defacing of 40 separate doors with a mix of messages, symbols and writings that left many residents feeling confused and violated.

Out of this defilement came the current process of notification that is to be taken in case such events are ever repeated on campus.

“The point in every case is that it happened,” Nance said.

The Office of Multicultural Affairs released a work known as “Community of Respect” in order to aid Villanova students in expressing themselves in a more reasonable and polite fashion.

The piece is structured like a creed and has been designed to create a diverse learning environment at Villanova while maintaining the value of community that the University stresses.

“Everything I do is about creating an environment where the students, faculty and staff are educated,” Nance said.

“As long as I am here and as long as I have one ounce of strength, I will continue to carry on conversations with all students who feel they have or need something to say.”

In comparison to other colleges, the University has not had many conflicts due to the presence and active nature of Villanova’s Multicultural Affairs office, along with Residence Life.

However, officials point out that it is crucial to maintain this reputation and respect for one another when living in an environment such as this.

Nance said that a quick response to these incidents is important when considering the effect the messages and intentions can have on students.

Although this is the first incident that Nance has heard of this year, she is positive that there are other issues that have arisen and have not been reported.

Nance stresses that the best way to combat this situation is to simply “talk.”

She feels it is important that students should never be afraid to speak out or say what they feel as long as their manner is both productive and positive toward others.

She felt that it is only through open communication that issues such as these can be resolved.