A student found four benches sitting outside of the University Suites vandalized Oct. 5 with racist and anti-Semetic messages scrawled on them.
“It’s despicable,” Director of University Housing Pete Trentacoste said. “Students do not have a right to deface university property or write that kind of language.”
According to Trentacoste, a student informed Housing of the marked benches at around 2 p.m. Oct. 5. That same student, he said, had not seen those messages on the benches at 1 a.m. the same day. Police are investigating it.
“My first reaction is sheer disappointment that that would be happening on this campus,” Cynthia Pinchback-Hines, associate dean and director of African American Student Affairs and Ethnic Services, said. “Or anywhere for that matter.”
She said the university continues to be reactive though she said she believes the university will be more proactive in preventing such acts in the future.
“I think the response was ‘We don’t have things in place yet,” Pinchback-Hines said of preemptive programs.
“This (act), as well as any other such incidents, should be addressed right away.”
University Housing is collaborating with AASAES and Latino Student Affairs to produce a diversity-awareness workshop. Trentacoste said he does not have the details of what, exactly, will be involved. Pinchback-Hines, likewise, said the specifics are still being planned.
Pinchback-Hines said the tentative date for the program, which all student residents will be required to attend, is Oct. 28. She describes it as a chance for the university to be a “pace-setter” in responding to such incidents. It has also motivated the departments to educate students on diversity.
“The idea is, again, is to let them know that the university does take these types of offenses very seriously. And, at the same time, we’re going to educate students on the issues of hate speech as well as First Amendment rights,” Pinchback-Hines said. “It’s an opportunity for them to grow.”
In addition, each residential hall will have its own workshop for residents.
As for those who drew on the benches, Trentacoste said they will be prosecuted to “the fullest extent of the law.”
Anyone with information should contact University Police at (859) 572-5500.