Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

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

Racist message written in Melville bathroom

This is the second race-related incident reported on campus this month
(Collegian file photo)

A racist message was found written in a Melville Hall bathroom at the University of Massachusetts on Saturday, Sept. 22. “Hang Melville n******” was allegedly written on the bathroom mirror, according to freshman Melville resident Kiara Batista.

Trevor Dority, a UMass residence director, emailed Melville residents at 11:56 a.m. on Monday informing them of a meeting held later that day at 7 p.m. regarding a “bias-related incident that occurred Saturday, September 22 in the Melville lobby bathroom involving the writing of a racial slur.”

UMass Police Department officer, Dean of Students Cara Appel-Silbaugh and a residence director were present at the meeting, which was attended by approximately 50 Melville residents.

Batista, a social and behavioral sciences major, said many of the students at the meeting were unhappy with the wording in the email that was sent out.

“It shouldn’t have been called biased, because that makes it seem like it’s not as important as it is. It was literally targeted toward the Black people of this residential space,” she said.

“I understand the position of the administrative staff in wanting to protect the students, but in my opinion, if you’re going to talk about a racial incident, you shouldn’t say specifics, but you should at least allude to what it was and who could be affected by it,” freshman African-American studies major Zach Steward said.

At the meeting, students were told not to speak about the incident outside of the residential building, according to Batista.

“They wanted us to keep it just in our area, but we thought that it was important to reach out and talk to other people because there’s a possibility that the person who wrote it could’ve been from another residential area,” she said.

“Now that I know the language that was written on the mirror, I’m extremely upset. I’m frustrated and I’m hurt, I’m angry, I’m disappointed and frankly, I don’t know what my next steps are, to be honest,” Steward said.

“It’s disheartening to think this is happening in 2018 on a college campus, what is supposed to be considered the flagship campus of the UMass system,” he said. “I thought I was done with this crap in middle school and high school.”

“This incident left many of us feeling really unsafe and we do not feel that the faculty is really dealing with this issue in the best manner. This was a racist threat and we are demanding that more concrete steps be taken,” said freshman legal studies major Sazia Patel.

This is the second race-related incident reported on campus this month.

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

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  • E

    Ed Cutting, Ed.D.Sep 26, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    As to fake hate crimes, the classic example occurred 40 years ago over at Amherst College. Back in the Spring of 1979, when AC still had fraternities, someone burnt a 6 foot tall cross in front of the Black frat. Well the FBI takes that seriously and while they didn’t have DNA back then, they used the tree growth rings to determine that the wood used for the cross came from the same tree as wood in the basement of the Black fraternity building.
    Yes, it was faked — here is the NYT on it:
    It’s also part of why Amherst College doesn’t have fraternities anymore — they got rid of them in 1980 for this and a bunch of other reasons, but I digress…
    I was involved (administratively) in a situation at UMass where a Black male student was screaming the “N” word out of his window — memory is at about 4 AM. He had some psych issues.
    Conversely, I know of a White College Republican who carved a “B” (for Barrack Obama) in her own forehead, and tried to blame it on two unknown Black males. As she had used her car’s rear-view mirror to do it, she wound up getting it backwards which was a pretty good indicator of what had really happened — and I believe she had some psych issues as well…
    And then there are the bigots who actually mean their hateful screeds — although if it is any comfort, the anonymous cowards that do this sort of thing are not the type of people likely to actually do anything violent.

  • M

    MSep 26, 2018 at 3:00 pm


    The word f*** does not cause violence. But when used in context, it can be used to express agitation, frustration, and anger. Calling someone a “n*****” all depends on context and using it in conjunction with “hanging” implies violence and threat.

    The only shameful thing here is you not using your race and gender as a platform to bolstering diversity and inclusion. It’s a shame that while other people are screaming for women’s right, you’re sitting here using your voice and opinion to question victims’ indignant. You may not think this is a crime but it can very well easily escalate into a crime when hate speech starts becoming the norm as it already has. When you have a person in power spewing hate speech for propaganda, you have people following him and feeling emboldened to act.

    I’m Asian too but I would never use that as an excuse to not defend those who feel attacked and victimized for being a certain color or religion or orientation. We may never feel subjected to police brutality but that doesn’t become the reason to be a bystander.

  • S

    Sade BrooksSep 25, 2018 at 6:22 pm


    I notice how cold and apathetic your responses are. However this is a particular situation where those traits are completely useless and unhelpful. Someone wrote a statement involving a racial slur and verbal violence that specifically targets POC. Look up the definition of a hate crime, and I’m sure you will find that yes, a crime was committed. Yes, it is necessary to have police involved.

    As to why so much attention should be given… a group of people were targeted. Simply put, you speak up about it. Especially if it follows a racial profiling incident weeks later. And if you think “special attention” is being given to AA students, you’re wrong again. People advocate for women, LGBT, all other minorities all around campus. This particular crime targets black people, so do not try and diverge the situation and lump everything together and say “so what”. Stay within the context.

    And lastly, dear, you’re Asian. If anything, you should be raising awareness with us because at the end of the day… you’re still Asian. You’re not one of them, you never will be, and they will treat you just. Like. Us. Taking a neutral stance, playing devils advocate, helps no one. Yourself included. Don’t be fooled. You sound like you’re really intelligent, but that’s nothing without common sense.

  • A

    AmySep 25, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    You can see how this conversation is descending into racial attacks by some, uncivil and full of angry(all caps) comments.

    Someone in poorly spelt message, did not even know how to spell are; said I was white. For the record I am not. I am asian and this is very clear in other comments I’ve left on the Collegian.

  • R

    ResidentSep 25, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    As appealing as this incident was coming on the heels of the UMass police stopping an employee for the THIRD TIME for no reason, the comments above display such ignorance of history & politics & such a lack of compassion for the students affected by this hateful message that one almost doesn’t know how to begin. Haven’t you ever studied the history of the Civil Rights movement? Do you not understand that as recently as the 1970s white people in Boston rioted & attacked people bc they did not want their kids to go to school with Black children? Do you really arrive at college with not even the slightest familiarity with the history or racist violence & the uptick in violent incidents against people of color in the U.S.? The hate speech was violent & targeted the Black students in a specific dorm. Those students, according to federal law, have a right to an educational environment free of racist harassment. It is important to confront racism wherever we see it and listen to those affected. I hope other students, staff, & faculty display the intelligence, knowledge, & compassion lacking in the above comments.

  • R

    RightfullyAngryBlackManSep 25, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    This issue is not a joke nor something that needs to be taken lightly. This is a blatantly racist macro aggression which needs an appropriate response. Those of you saying that this doesn’t deserve any real punishment clearly have never been on the receiving end of the racial tension that takes place here at UMass.

    @Amy to answer your question about whether a crime has taken place, at the very least this is vandalism which requires a punishment. However, in reality this is clearly a hate crime. To say that any response would be giving black students special treatment is ridiculously disrespectful, If you had any idea of the history of black students at PWI’s you would know that WE, black students, never get special attention.

    Honestly UMass needs to take this very seriously or risk exposing their true hypocritical nature with their nonsense slogan “Hate Has No Home At UMass.” since it is extremely evident that hate is very prevalent at UMass.

  • L

    LeticiaSep 25, 2018 at 1:29 pm


    Please enlighten me and show me ONE faked “hate crime” that’s happened lately, since you’re such a thinker.

  • L

    LeticiaSep 25, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Since apparently you don’t know how to interpret journalistic articles, let me explain to you what happened and why it was not a waste of resources to call UMPD, or call a special meeting. And why it wasn’t a matter of special attention, and simply a matter of making sure a large group of people in a residential building feel safe in the place they’re paying thousands of dollars to live in for the next four years of their life.
    On Saturday afternoon (9/21/18) at around 2pm, a black student resident of Melville, walked into the public bathroom of her own resident hall to see the words “HANG MELVILLE N****RS” written in the mirror. She called on her WHITE friend to see the mirror for herself and assure her that she wasn’t just having a nightmare of being in some alternative reality where people are still so hateful that they are able to write something like that without feeling completely disgusted about themselves. That white friend, called the UMPD and asked them to come INVESTIGATE THIS OBVIOUS HATE CRIME. Because it wasn’t simply about someone writing the n-word in the mirror, it was a clear death threat directed towards the black students living in that residence hall. And if you don’t think someone writing “HANG MELVILLE N****RS” is a death threat, think about how YOU would feel if someone wrote “HANG WHITE PEOPLE” in YOUR BATHROOM AT YOUR RESIDENCE.
    Now, when the UMPD arrived, they LOOKED AT WHAT WAS WRITTEN BY THEMSELVES and, as far as I know, they also TOOK A PICTURE. So if you don’t believe what the students said they saw, take it up with the UMPD and you can see for yourself.
    AND NO! IT IS NOT A PART OF LIFE TO BE THREATENED TO DEATH SIMPLY BECAUSE OF YOUR SKIN COLOR AND IT SHOULD NEVER BE. And even if there are bathrooms out there with racist comments about white people (i’ve never seen any, and truly believe you’re making it up to “deflate the racist narrative,” in your own words.) And there needs to be no debate on how to answer to these things, there simply needs to be consequences to people who think that being vulgar and racist is okay.

  • L

    livSep 25, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    The minute a white person says “lets play devils advocate” to any race-sensitive article is when I know someones true feelings r coming out..

    theres no need to “play devils advocate” when a good sum of our country is already doing that

  • U

    UjuSep 25, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    @Amy, you don’t play devils advocate with race issues, especially in America where race has been and still is a big problem.

  • N

    NITZAKHONSep 25, 2018 at 10:20 am


    There have been far too many faked “hate crimes” for thinking people to take such events at face value.

  • E

    Ed Cutting, Ed. D.Sep 25, 2018 at 1:23 am

    In fairness, there are two very good reasons for UMass to not make a big issue out of this.

    First, people who do stuff like this are doing it hoping that it upsets a lot of people and the rest. Hence it isn’t any fun (to them) if they get ignored, if there isn’t a big fuss about what they did.

    Hence it is a very difficult balancing act between reacting to something to show that you both are disgusted by it and wish to support those victimized by it — and ignoring it because you don’t want to encourage more of it. Think back to Middle School and the things you might have done *because* it upset the teachers — that’s what UMass is dealing with here.

    The second reason is more practical. If they don’t give out the exact wording, if they don’t say how it was written (e.g. marker, paint, etc), and then they hear some drunken yahoo bragging about it (which almost inevitably happens) then they can say “Hey, how’d you know that — you must be the person who did it…”

    That’s really the only way you are going to catch the people who do this sort of stuff, and that’s the goal — so give them a break, my guess is they are taking it fairly seriously.