Racist message written in Melville bathroom

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


(Collegian file photo)

By Hayley Johnson, Editor in Chief

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.