White Supremacist vandals return

By Hunter Ellis and Grace Hamilton, Multimedia Managing Editor and Breaking News Response Team Member
Newswire photo by Hunter Ellis. White Supremacist propaganda sticker attached to a light post on the Xavier Yard.

Xavier has once again been targeted by vandalism from a White supremacist group, the most recent instance in a string of attacks dating back to late January 2021. 

Wednesday night at 12:57 a.m., XUPD responded to a call reporting the destruction of property. The damage cited in the most recent attack included the slashing of a Black Lives Matter banner hanging from Bellarmine Chapel, the destruction of signage in the peace circle and the placement of stickers promoting the group around the Xavier Yard.

XUPD Assistant Chief of Police Gregory Haigis spoke on the vandalism, calling it criminal, despicable and pathetic. 

“I think Xavier represents everything that they are fighting against, and we’re an easy target to them not just because we’re an open campus, but because we welcome people,” Haigis said.

The morning after the incident, Dr. Colleen Hanycz, president, addressed the incident in an email to the Xavier community.

“Our steadfast commitment to ensuring a culture of inclusion and belonging on this campus will not be deterred by external groups seeking to intimidate us or detract from our mission,” the statement read.

XUPD’s investigation into the incident began immediately. The two officers working the night of the attack were dispatched and set out to locate the suspects, recover the destroyed signs and remove the stickers.

While the investigation into the event is ongoing, Haigis noted that there are quite a few things already known about the incident.

The damage was committed by the same group which vandalised campus at least four times during 2021. [Editor’s note: Newswire has chosen not to name the group which perpetrated the vandalism as to not give the group unwarranted media coverage]

Security footage captured images of the suspects, who were wearing face coverings during the attack. According to Haigis, the suspects are believed to be college-aged, though all evidence points to the individuals not being students at Xavier.

“We’ve not had one instance of them swiping into a building… but we have seen them on video check doors to see if they’re unlocked — doors that they could have gotten into if they had a card,” Haigis said.

Meanwhile, while reviewing footage, XUPD has determined where the suspects entered and left campus. 

As a part of their investigation, XUPD has begun working with Norwood and Cincinnati Police Departments and private citizens to review security footage from cameras located in proximity to the suspect’s entrance and exit locations. 

Haigis advised students to remain observant, especially at night, and follow the adage, “If you see something, say something.”

In an interview with Newswire in August, XUPD Chief of Police Robert Warfel highlighted White supremacist vandalism as one of many reasons that the department desired to increase security measures on campus.

“Based on some of the incidents from last year, we wanted to enhance our security coverage as a whole,” Warfel said. “(The vandalism was) a factor. That was impactful. It helped highlight where we had some of the gaps for coverage.”

While Haigis noted that some more cameras had been installed over the fall semester, the current setup exists as a “stop-gap measure” while Xavier awaits the installation of its updated security measures.

According to Haigis, the university has given its approval for the plan, a project manager has been appointed and the bidding process was expanded to include more companies. 

“The process is still moving forward. We’re hoping that over the summer that we will take a lot of leaps forward with it,” Haigis said.

However, he also asserted that Xavier is a safe campus, citing that Xavier is traditionally ranked as one of the safest campuses in the nation.

Haigis noted there are limits to the security measures that XUPD can take.

“We can’t put up a fence around our campus and say you can’t come in and out without an ID,” he said.

Hanycz noted in her statement, related to the recent vandalism, she will be hosting a Student Diversity town hall on April 12 at 3 p.m. along with SGA Leadership and the Vice President of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Ivy Banks.

Students who have any information on the vandalism or would like to report suspicious activity are encouraged to contact either the XUPD non-emergency number, 513-745-2000, or the 24-hour line at 513-745-1000.