Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Racist message written in Melville bathroom

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

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Racist message written in Melville bathroom

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Hayley Johnson, Editor in Chief

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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.

24 Comments

24 Responses to “Racist message written in Melville bathroom”

  1. Amy on September 25th, 2018 12:01 am

    Let’s play devil’s advocate here. First often in these incidents they are either false or hysterical. Often claims of ‘racist’ incidents are actually hoaxes or in other instances it’s a hysterical over-reaction which you can see here. Really was a crime committed? Are the police necessary? That’s a waste of resources. A dean, a special meeting?

    At smith college what was rarely mentioned in any article except for Amherst Gazette; is that the black female student was loitering in a dorm after hours, after it was closed down and that’s why the security was called and why she appeared to be suspicious. Often in these claims of ‘racism’ some key element is left out or ignored which deflates the racist narrative.

    Last, let’s say it happened. Sure let’s do some bias incident and send out emails. But why should so much attention and care be given to a message scrawled on the wall? Simply because it referenced black people? Isn’t that it a little unfair, a little unequal to give african-american students special attention?

    Look around, go to any campus bathroom, any bathroom, you will see racist comments about white people, Asians, you will see hateful messages about gay people, use of slurs and profanity like f***ot, sexual messages, anti-social messages,political messagesetc.

    That’s part of reality, part of life; people write mean, vulgar messages in bathrooms. If anything there needs to be a debate in how to appropatiely respond to these things, if at all.

  2. Ed Cutting, Ed. D. on September 25th, 2018 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.

  3. NITZAKHON on September 25th, 2018 10:20 am

    @Amy:

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

  4. Uju on September 25th, 2018 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.

  5. amy on September 25th, 2018 12:46 pm

    Exactly and it’s not just that; this message doesn’t deserve the attention it got and the waste of our student resources and public/taxpayer’s resources.

    University of Massachusetts is an university; it’s not a pre-school where student’s emotions and feelings and feelings of ‘safety’ are catered to.

  6. liv on September 25th, 2018 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

  7. Leticia on September 25th, 2018 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 GIVING SPECIAL ATTENTION TO BLACK STUDENTS WHEN OFFICERS WHO ARE HERE TO PROTECT US LOOK INTO AN INCIDENT THAT POSES A THREAT TO THE LIVES OF A CERTAIN GROUP OF STUDENTS. IN MY OPINION, special attention and WASTE OF RESOURCES, is when WHITE STUDENTS call UMPD ON BLACK PEOPLE for doing EVERYDAY THINGS and when they get there, there was NO REASON FOR SUSPICION AT ALL. Just like what happened in the Whitmore area just a few days ago.
    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.

  8. Leticia on September 25th, 2018 1:29 pm

    @NITZAKHON

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

  9. RightfullyAngryBlackMan on September 25th, 2018 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.

  10. Resident on September 25th, 2018 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.

  11. Amy on September 25th, 2018 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.

  12. amy on September 25th, 2018 4:11 pm

    Also to the hysterical/crazy comments about how this is a ‘hate crime’. I have two responses. 1. I hope that this debate does not descend into the uncivil frenzy you see elsewhere; where some people act lke bullies and demand everyone agree/think just like them.

    2. Writing a mean message a wall is not a hate crime. Even an african-american poster admitted that(at least based on his user name) he said it was vandalism. I suppose it technically is although it would be a waste our public resources to go after mirror vandalism and selective prosecution which would be unjust.

    If we are going to apply this ‘hate crime’ standard; then where is the cries and demand for investigating hate crime into anti-homosexual messages, anti-asian messages, anti-white messages, anti-conservative messages,. How about just mean messages in general and that make the person who read it perceive that they are ‘unsafe’?

    There is equality before the law and one group doesn’t get special treatment in the law just because they demand it. So hate crime laws should be applied for all hateful comments and mean messages scrawled on bathroom walls.

  13. Sade Brooks on September 25th, 2018 6:22 pm

    @Amy

    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.

  14. amy on September 25th, 2018 7:51 pm

    No hate crime was commited or it’s very tenous. What a ‘hate crime is’, it’s a crime which was motivated by hatred towards a protected group like a racial group. So what is the crime here?

    Vandalism, a threat? And no threat was made either; unless it’s possible to threaten an entire group of people. The threat charge if one was made would be very hard to uphold. Any charge would be selective. Also there is a question of freedom of speech. Is it nice to say the n word, no. It’s very mean but is it nice to say f*** or a million other slurs; no; but you don’t you see those comments getting investigated at least in the united states.

    THe last poster hasn’t denied this; every group is attacked on bathroom walls with mean messages;but are deans involved, police, a huge outcry, demand for action, nope.

    Last so sad that as I predicted, people would devolve the conversation as the last poster did, demand that only their opinion was right; attack people who disagree with them and that other people’s race would be attacked. You have one poster typing in all caps about white people, what if someone wrote about white people being hanged.

    Now the last poster is trying to manipulate me on the basis of my race .. it’s shameful. Also her comments sound a little crazy/. I am not ‘one of them’, ‘ they will treat you just like ‘us’. At the end of the day… I am just ‘asian’ I am not going to raise awareness just because I am ‘brown’ and I should be in the same lot as all the other ‘brown’ people.

  15. Ben on September 25th, 2018 9:24 pm

    Hundred to one odds says that the perpetrator is a black leftist. Ten to one odds says it was the gi who found it.

    I will also wager that no punishment will befall the black perp in question, if and when identified.

    Oh, and @RightfullyAngryBlackMan: who said that this person should not be punished? All the comments I’ve read indicate that they believe the whole thing to be a hoax, as these incidents almost always are. Self-bullying is de rigeuer.

  16. Rat Keynard on September 25th, 2018 10:31 pm

    I blame republiKKKans and they’re orange in Chief for this bullshit we gotta #resist cuz the Young RepubliKKKans on this campus a buncha white supremacists when they gonna get banned and expressed cus this campus ain’t got room for haters like the young RepubliKKKans

  17. AA on September 25th, 2018 10:52 pm

    AMY luv don’t SPEAK ON WHAT YOU DONT KNOW. THIS IS A HATE CRIME IF IVE EVER SEEN ONE. THIS IS NOT JUST A MEAN MESSAGE. THIS IS A WHOLE THREAT TO BLACK STUDENTS ATTENDING UMASS AMHERST. CLEARLY YOUVE NEVER SAT IN AN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY CLASS AND YOU DONT KNOW THE HISTORY OF LYNCHING. ALSO U BEING ASIAN WOULDNT KNOW SHIT ABOUT HOW IT FEELS TO BE CALLED THE N WORD. YOU ARE TRASH AMY AND DONT FORGET THAT EVER EVER EVER. YOU ARE DUMPSTER TRASH. GARBAGE.
    PS: your mom should’ve scrapped you

  18. One on September 26th, 2018 1:50 am
  19. RandomName on September 26th, 2018 1:54 am

    Could be a hoax

    Case in point:
    [https://www.indystar.com/story/news/fox59/2017/04/24/police-indiana-state-professor-behind-fake-muslim-threats/100835108/]

    [https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/11/08/air-force-academy-says-racial-slurs-outside-dorm-rooms-were-hoax/843905001/]

  20. NITZAKHON on September 26th, 2018 11:27 am

    @Leticia:

    There’s a whole database.

    http://www.fakehatecrimes.org/

  21. M on September 26th, 2018 3:00 pm

    @Amy,

    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.

  22. Ed Cutting, Ed.D. on September 26th, 2018 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: https://www.nytimes.com/1979/04/18/archives/amherst-college-officials-blame-crossburning-on-black-student.html
    .
    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.

  23. Amy on September 26th, 2018 9:18 pm

    First I have read African-American and civil rights history and lynching actually involved a crime, also lynching occured long ago and it was not exclusive to black people. What happened here was not a lynching but a mean bathroom wall message; you see countless other mean comments about other groups; which if I am not mistaken not one poster here had recognized or had great outrage and claim of hate crimes, for homosexuals,transexuals, women, white people, democrats,republicans, presidents and otherwise who have been targeted in bathroom hate messages.

    Second I am glad to see I have been vindicated and that many people have pointed out hoaxes, including a database organizing fake hatecrimes. This is a very serious issue and I never said that a hoax happened here but that we should wait to see all the facts before conclusions are jumped to because hoaxes have regularly occured in these types of incidents as well as incomplete reporting.

    Third I just want to quote some of the hateful, angry,agressive comments posted on this site and including some towards me.

    “cuz the Young RepubliKKKans on this campus a buncha white supremacists ”

    ““HANG WHITE PEOPLE” in YOUR BATHROOM AT YOUR RESIDENCE” (in reference to how would you feel if you saw that comment.)

    “PS: your mom should’ve scrapped you” (presumbly referring to abortion)

    “The only shameful thing here is you not using your race and gender as a platform to bolstering diversity and inclusion. ” (one of many comments attacking my identity and race and as I predicted towards the beginning absolute insistent and attacks on you if you don’t take the ‘right’ side. )

  24. Reginald on September 29th, 2018 10:15 pm

    Is there a picture taken of the vandalism? Handwriting analysis can rule out a lot of people.

    While there have been many fake hate crimes, I’d like to treat this like anyone who’s accused of rape: innocent until proven guilty. So, real until proven fake.

    I don’t care what political affiliation you choose to identify with, if you don’t have a picture, that’s plain and simple shitty journalism.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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