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

Racially discriminating message written outside UMass professor’s office


(Courtesy of Emiliana Cruz)

Wednesday afternoon, walking back to her office in Machmer with a student after class, Professor Emiliana Cruz noticed someone had written “vuélvanse a casa” on a poster of hers.

The phrase translates to “go home” in English.

Cruz is an assistant professor in the department of anthropology and has been teaching at the University of Massachusetts for six years. She is originally from a village in Southwestern Mexico called San Juan Quiahije.

Cruz teaches ‘Endangered Languages: Why do they matter?’ this semester at UMass.

The poster by her office is part of a campaign in Mexico that fought to make the distinction between dialects and languages.

“In Mexico, they made a campaign to not call indigenous languages dialects, because a lot of people don’t understand the difference between a dialect and a language…and a lot of these misconceptions have been there for a long time,” Cruz said.

The campaign started “after they passed a law for the rights of indigenous languages in Mexico, so different institutions were doing different things to educate the public to not call indigenous languages dialects, to call them languages.”

Cruz said the poster is really important to her, “it’s basically what I fight for.”

According to Mary Dettloff, deputy director of the News and Media Relations Office, the UMass Police Department was notified of the incident by Cruz at 8:40 a.m. on Thursday morning.

“The phrase that they wrote on this poster is really common; it’s like Spanish from Spain. It’s not a Spanish from Mexico or Latin America…Maybe someone who is a native speaker of English learned how to write the ‘go home’ phrase,” she said.

Spanish is not Cruz’s first language.

“I speak an indigenous language called Chatino,” she said. “In a sense, Spanish doesn’t mean anything to me, it’s just another language, it’s just like English to me. It is interesting that someone would want to do this in Spanish, making the statement one maybe said, ‘well I’m going to put this in your own language so you actually understand it,’ or it’s someone who said, ‘I can actually do this in the language, I’m good at Spanish.’”

Despite the “Hate Has No Home at UMass” campaign, Cruz explained she feels, “people are starting to feel more free to write this kind of hate, to use this language.”

“I think that sometimes people are not really used to having indigenous scholars, so we are more like immigrants, and not necessarily scholars to them,” she said.

Cruz said she also received a letter from the provost office telling her that her tenure was denied two weeks ago.

“It really concerns me that once I get the tenure denial, I get a hate note like this. It’s just really strange to me,” she said.

Cruz said she has no idea who would leave this note, but she is doubtful that it would be one of her students. After finding the message, she sent an email to her colleagues in the anthropology department to make them aware.

“My colleagues have been really supportive and they are really concerned about it,” she said.

“We take it very seriously, and then a lot of what happens in the aftermath of that is trying to turn everything back toward the education and engagement part of ‘Diversity Matters’ here at UMass, talking about some of the things that are going on with the ‘No Hate’ campaign going on here,” Dettloff said.

She explained that the University currently views the occurrence as a “bias incident,” per the University’s definition.

“The police will follow-up with the professor, they’ll talk to her about it, they’ll offer her some resources in terms of support if she feels she needs those sorts of things,” Dettloff said. “It’s very hard sometimes though to find the person who did this, because these sorts of things usually happen very discretely and no one usually witnesses someone doing it so it’s sometimes difficult to find the people who did them.”

Hayley Johnson can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @hayleyk_johnson.

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  • B

    BenFeb 10, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    There’s nothing explicitly racial about the graffiti. It takes a lot of interpretation to arrive at that conclusion and all of that interpretation is open to debate. Without the supposed racial angle, which is really a subjective opinion masquerading as a fact, this is just a story about vandalism.

    Someone wrote something in pencil somewhere on campus! Gasp! Stupid. That’s not a news story.

    In any case, it’s probably another hoax intended to garner sympathy for the supposed victim and to make it appear that UMass is a hotbed of racism. It muddies the waters around the reasons why she was denied tenure, making it appear that scholarship (or lack thereof) is actual a cover for more sinister motives. It’s the oldest trick in the book.


  • M

    Mike WarrenOct 27, 2017 at 11:12 am

    The university needs to do something about this hate! Enough is enough, the hate needs to be purged. Conservatives need to go; they are all hatemongers.

  • E

    Ed. Cutting, EdDOct 27, 2017 at 11:11 am

    And this has nothing with her being denied tenure?
    “Go home” can also refer to the university one graduated from — as in “homecoming weekend.”
    I’d look inside the Anthro Dept and see who’s happy she was denied tenure.

  • N

    NITZAKHONOct 27, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Given the prevalence of fake “hate crimes”, $1 says this is too.

    Note to SJWs: If you have to fabricate “hate crimes” to prove your point, you’ve disproven your point.