Vandalism email faces backlash

A letter from administrators was sent last Thursday to address incidents

By Grace Hamilton and Olivia Vaulkner, Staff Writers

In a letter to the Xavier community, Vice President of Risk Management Jeff Coleman and Chief Student Affairs Officer Dave Johnson outlined new guidelines for responding to racially-motivated incidents of vandalism on Xavier’s campus.  

In January, stickers promoting a White nationalist group were found around Xavier’s campus. 

The Black Lives Matter banner outside Bellarmine Chapel was also defaced and cut on multiple occasions. This was not the first time such an incident had occurred, as similar acts took place in 2019.

Each time, the incidents were condemned by the university, declared as bias incidents and officially investigated by XUPD. Labor Day weekend saw a similar incident take place, with more stickers bearing the White nationalist group name and message placed in prominent spots across campus. 

The letter reads: “To truly ‘prevent’ the kind of abhorrent behavior that we are experiencing would require that we cultivate a dramatically different campus experience, adopting measures that would shift our campus into a far more guarded, exclusive and insular space.” 

The letter expresses hesitancy in reporting the name of the hate group to prevent its message from being spread further and warns against posting about these incidents on social media. 

Newswire photo by Kate Ferrell
In a letter to campus, the university addressed the racially-motivated  incidents on campus, most recently by a Labor Day vandalism.

“Going forward, we will update students and employees through internal communication tools rather than social media, to ensure our response to these incidents does not further encourage these groups and provide attention to their causes,” report Coleman and Johnson.

A student responded to the statement, saying, “I find myself reading through these statements and think ‘This really happens on campus?’ Because no one really talks about it… There are other people that attend school here and they want to know what is going on, because their lives are potentially at risk with this stuff.” 

The email stated that there is no reason to believe that harm to any student is likely.

One student expressed doubt about this belief.

“I think one thing that bothers me is that they recognize that what these people are doing is wrong, but they are also stating that they don’t think anything harmful will happen… But who’s to say that they wouldn’t turn violent if they saw a person of color at the time? They could just be testing the waters, and it could totally turn into something bigger,” one student said.

The most recent incident involved a large sticker promoting White nationalist group being placed over a map near Hailstones Hall. There were attempts by XUPD to remove the sticker, but eventually it was covered by white duct tape. 

“I called XUPD to report it since it was early on Labor Day… I was expecting a follow up email similar to last year when they tore the BLM signs, but I never saw anything of it, which I found odd,” the student said.

“Though considering the new protocol, I guess that makes sense, I just find it sickening that there’s people out there who actually believe such a tormented ideology and want to spread hatred,” the student added.

The same student expressed concern over the university’s efforts to keep all investigations and news of these incidents internal.

“The covering up of these things is concerning for the safety of our campus,” they said.

The students responding to these incidents and the university’s response wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation by the university. 

If further incidents occur, students can report them through the Guardian Application, or by reaching XUPD at (513) 745-2000.