January 24, 2017
By Nayah James
The first week of classes is suppose to be filled with smiles and catching-up, yet Dominican’s students were hit with another disrespectful hate crime.
According to accounts from several student workers, a swastika was discovered on the second floor of Aquinas Hall on Priory Campus at 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11.
Dominican President Donna Carroll responded to the incident.
“This type of vandalism eats at the self worth of a community,” Carroll said. “It makes people feel unwelcome and unsafe, so, I am furious…my big disappointment is that I expect better of Dominican.”
Carroll continued on to share her frustration, calling the act “cowardly.”
In light of the hate crime, Diversity Advocate, Gabriella Fusco, called a meeting.
“A process is needed for something like this,” Fusco said. “This has happened four times in the past year. Someone had to see it. The fact that there’s no check-in policy on Priory is a safety issue and there needs to be more security.”
Other campus residents that attended the meeting also shared their thoughts.
Andre Payne-Guillory voiced his opinion stating that this incident, like many others, is not a joking matter.
“People that do acts like this, they think it’s a joke,” Guillory said. “It’s targeting specific people and I think the core of this needs to be finding the motive behind it.”
Past vandalism has been seen on cars in the parking lot and in bathroom stalls.
“No one knows who did this, it makes me feel the need to be more reserved,” Guillory said. “There should be a residents-only survey with 5-10 questions on asking residents if they’d feel comfortable if there were cameras in the hallways and or lounges, and how safe they feel in the dorms and throughout campus.”
Fashion student Lexi Spreitzer voiced her frustration with Dominican’s passivity.
“It’s really frustrating because it doesn’t feel like the administration is invested in the students,” Spreitzer said. “The scariest part is the passivity. If we don’t have safety, what do we have? DU needs to take more action to make their students feel safe.”
When Chief Diversity Officer Sheila Radford-Hill was approached, she stated that there was a meeting on Jan. 17 between University Ministry, Student Life, Student Involvement, Rosary College, Wellness, the President and herself on how to eliminate bias on campus.
“The meeting discussed the short-term objective of standing against hate and bigotry, the update on how to investigate incidents of this nature, and a longer term objective to discuss the need for a bias response team or initiative,” Radford-Hill said. “We are obligated by our mission and by the principles of diversity and inclusion to invite these students to publicly discuss their views and to stop resorting to fear or hate speech. These are not pranks; these are not acceptable ways to express their views.”
When asked about what is being done to increase the feeling of safety on campus, she mentioned increasing surveillance so that students know what’s happening on campus.
Last semester the university offered a panel titled “Talking with Students about Race, Inclusivity and the Campus Climate”.
“I’m optimistic that these talks will continue,” Radford-Hill said.
Dean of Students Trudi Goggin stated that this incident and others like it have raised concern for the safety of the Dominican community.
“Public Safety has reviewed key swipes, surveillance tapes and the RFPD have provided evidence technicians to assist with finger printing,” Goggin said. “Hate crimes and vandalism are also criminal acts and the university will not hesitate to step in the complainant and ask States Attorney to press charges. Unfortunately, anonymous acts are difficult to address without the help of the student body, as of yet, no one has been identified.”
According to Radford-Hill and Goggin, the university has crafted an action plan that includes but is not limited to: the appointment of a Bias Incident Response Team, increased patrols of the residence halls, increased patrols of our campuses by the RFPD, improved surveillance on the Priory.
An interfaith prayer service will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at the Priory for peace and restoration.
Reporting contributions made by Marty Carlino.