Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Islamophobic messages found on FAC walls

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Police were called to the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts around 9 a.m. Monday when the words “Stop Islam” were found written in chalk in several places around the building.

Ed Blaguszewski of News and Media Relations said in a statement, “UMass Police responded to the scene shortly after 9 a.m. The graffiti was removed promptly by Physical Plant staff.”

However, at around 1:15 p.m., similar Islamophobic phrases remained chalked on one of the walls of the underpass leading to the FAC main lobby.

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said in the statement provided by Blaguszewski, “Such hateful acts are rejected by the UMass community and they have no place on our campus.”

The University had not yet notified students of this incident as of Monday night.

On Tuesday afternoon, Subbaswamy wrote in an email to the UMass campus community that the incident is under investigation by the UMass Police.

Subbaswamy encouraged students to attend events hosted by the UMass Muslim Student Association in April, which is Islam Awareness Month.

At Monday’s Student Government Association meeting, Social Justice and Empowerment Committee Chair Maddie Goldstein mentioned the chalk graffiti before the SGA Senate.

“There was some anti-Islam messaging found in chalk on the FAC,” said Goldstein, a senior studying sociology and history. “It seems like a sequence of really disturbing, violent messages.”

Following the November terrorist attacks in Paris, the Muslim Student Association held a vigil for the victims and made a public statement denouncing the sweeping implications of all Muslims based on the actions of a few. Organizers commented that while they felt welcome on campus, they are constantly aware of the narratives being offered to the general public about Muslims. That vigil was attended by administration members as well.

Daily Collegian columnist and junior Mike Agnello alerted the Collegian staff after he witnessed one of the spots vandalized by Islamophobic messages on his way to class at about 8:30 a.m.

“I was walking past the Fine Arts Center and saw on one of the sculptures that it said ‘Stop Islam’ written in chalk,” Agnello explained. “This was the first piece of vandalism that I have [personally] seen, so I was definitely a little bit caught off guard.”

Agnello said he felt the University’s response to previous acts of intolerance was prompt and appropriate, but felt this instance was different. “I was a little surprised the University didn’t send out an email because they were pretty proactive about the other incidents,” Agnello added.

Blaguszewski said UMass police are still investigating the incident.

This incident of vandalism follows a pattern of acts of hate and intolerance on campus. In February, a swastika was discovered carved into a bathroom stall in the Integrative Learning Center on the same day the Collegian published a column written by SGA member Jeremy Tibbetts denouncing anti-Semitism on campus. Subbaswamy quickly responded with an email rejecting the vandalism and participated in an event pledging solidarity with the Jewish community a few days afterward.

About over a month later, a non-UMass affiliated group gained access to University printers to distribute anti-Semitic and white supremacist flyers across campus. Days later, the LGBTQIA community was also targeted by hateful flyers that appeared at multiple printing stations throughout UMass. The administration called in federal authorities to help investigate the matter.
The University sent out emails about previous instances of hate-motivated vandalism, and has hosted a number of events to ignite a discussion about intolerance on the UMass campus.

Stuart Foster and Brendan Deady contributed to this report. Morgan Hughes can be reached at [email protected]

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said the messages were found on Tuesday, not Monday. The mistake has since been corrected.

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    ArafatApr 6, 2016 at 9:47 am

    The PC police in action.

    The truth is – and it is the truth as is evidenced by the Quran, Hadiths and the actions Mohammed practiced during his blood-stained life – that Islam is an aggressive, supremacist ideology. It is not hard to find thousands of examples of Muslims calling for the death of America. These are their words, not mind.