Classes at Connecticut College in New London were cancelled on Monday so students could gather to address recent incidents of racism on campus.
WVIT reported that the college’s Campus Safety was notified on Sunday that racist graffiti had been found on the first floor of the Crozier-Williams building.
Photos of the graffiti obtained by WVIT showed the words “no” and the plural form of the n-word scrawled on a bathroom wall.
“Given the egregious nature of the graffiti, we are enlisting the campus community to help us to identify those responsible,” Dean of Student Life Victor Arcelus and Director of Campus Safety Stewart Smith wrote in a letter to students on Sunday.
The incident comes as students were dealing with another recent racial controversy.
Earlier this month, Connecticut College Professor Andrew Pessin was placed on leave for a Facebook post comparing Gazan Palestinians to “a rabid pit bull chained in a cage, regularly making mass efforts to escape.”
Connecticut College president Katherine Bergeron notified students in a letter on Sunday that classes would be cancelled to give students the proper time to address the recent hate speech.
“By now, there have been many opinions expressed about the original Facebook post, as well as about subsequent comments on Yik Yak and elsewhere,” Bergeron noted. “But one thing has become extremely clear: the level of harm that incendiary language can have on a community. The post caused an outpouring of anger and pain among many different groups of students, faculty, and staff.”
“The groundswell of reaction makes it clear that the issue goes far beyond the effects of a single post. It is about who we are as a community,” she continued. “Earlier today, as I was writing this letter, I learned of another incident of racist graffiti in the restrooms of Crozier-Williams. We must take action immediately to expose and eradicate this ignorance and hatred. I have decided to cancel tomorrow’s classes to ensure these events receive the proper attention.”
Bergeron pointed out that students did not have to stand for racism just because it was protected by the First Amendment.
“Even though speech may be protected does not mean that we have to approve of the odious things that people choose to say with their freedom. I do not approve,” she explained. “It does mean, though, that we can and should use our freedom to speak out against injustice.”
A campus-wide meeting was scheduled for Monday night to continue the discussion on campus tolerance.
Watch the video below from WVIT, broadcast March 30, 2015.