I learned last week that we had an incident at our school with someone writing an anti-Semitic and sexist comment in one of our dorms. I had a conversation with the Dean of Student Life about it. The RA and Head Resident Assistant were apparently alerted that the comment that was written on or near the door of a student. The comment was taken down within four to five hours after being written. Campus Safety has been unable to identify who wrote this comment, because apparently their cameras don’t face the correct way to be able to identify the person.
I have a few thoughts about this. This is obviously very upsetting, but also very pertinent to what we have talked about in class in the Harwood et al. article about microaggressions in residence halls. Students in this article in reported microaggressions that were written in the halls and in various places on the campus. This led to them reporting feelings of being unsafe or unwelcome.
I think that the students in this dorm, and everyone on campus, should be talked to further about this issue. The parallels to the article are obvious, but also people should understand the implications of what they say or write. Although they may not know whom this insult was directed at, it was clearly offensive and I would like to know more about how the school handled it afterward. I would hope that the staff would not invalidate the feelings of students involved, like in the Harwood et al. article.
I also feel that, although there were several resources and places to discuss this incident in the email sent regarding it, the counseling center is limited in it’s abilities to have conversations about such events. I have talked with various people of color who say that the lack of faculty of color causes them to feel less comfortable having these conversations. I wish there were other available resources to allow everyone to feel comfortable, and that allowed all voices to be heard.
What I have to ask is, what is the best way to handle this situation? And do students feel that they were adequately debriefed about the issue? Should Campus Safety have a more active role in helping to identify this suspect and how would that help? I also realize that the equipment Campus Safety has to work with is limited and their access to new ones is limited by lack of funds.