Several days after finding a racial slur written on her dorm door, a Quinnipiac University student called for the university to establish a course of action to respond to such incidents.
“They need a procedure, because I was told the police should have been called,” said the 18- year-old student, who is black. “It kind of puts me off because if this becomes an issue in the future or if it is taken any further than this, I don’t know what my recourse would be, seeing that the police weren’t called from the get-go.”
Manuel Carreiro, the university’s Dean of Students, explained that the Hamden Police Department would be contacted only if the university’s own investigation yielded results.
“If there’s nothing to give them to investigate, it’s very difficult to do anything about it. But if something were to happen, we would work together,” Carreiro said.
The slur was written on a dry erase board located on the door of the student’s 2nd floor dorm room in the Ledges residence hall. She believes that the slur was written between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 28. The student spoke to The Chronicle on Friday on the condition that her identity not be disclosed.
“I was upset,” she said. “The first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Should I reply or should I ignore it?'”
She explained that the uncapped marker attached to her dry-erase board led her attention to the racial slur at approximately 6 a.m. She was advised by her sister and friend, both of whom she called after noticing the vandalized board, to notify her resident assistant (R.A.). After giving her R.A. a written statement the student met with Director of Multicultural Affairs Tyrone Black, who brought her to meet with a university investigator. An investigation has been underway ever since.
“I don’t feel responsible for what happened,” the student said. “I haven’t had any conflicts or confrontations with anyone. I would just like the whole situation to be resolved.”
The incident was brought to the attention of the Quinnipiac community in a campus-wide e-mail sent by Carreiro at approximately 12:30 p.m. last Thursday. In the e-mail students were urged to contact the university’s security office with any further information.
According to Connecticut state law a person can be sentenced up to one year in prison and fined up to $2,000 for defacing personal property with specific intent to intimidate on the basis of race (see below).
Although the student is unsure whether the police should have been contacted, she wonders if the investigation would be more effective with police assistance.
“A police officer might have more authority or would be taken more seriously than just the university saying ‘this is not tolerated,'” she said.
Carreiro’s e-mail, under the subject heading “Behavioral incident,” stated that “Students found responsible for such behavior will no longer be welcome in the Quinnipiac University community.” But the student said she would prefer a different course of action.
“I don’t want the person kicked out of school,” she said. “I think that if the person is found, no matter who they are, they should be given some sort of sensitivity training, diversity program or even community service.”
Despite her personal feelings, the student respects the university’s decision to expel the vandal.
“I think that the university has the right to have their own policies, rules, and regulations, and when we came to this school we agreed to abide by these rules and regulations,” she said. “So if their policy says that the person should be kicked out, you have to abide. I personally don’t believe in them, but I am not going to say the school is wrong.”
In March a similar incident occurred when a racial slur, directed toward a black male student, was found in Irmagarde Tator Hall. That student did not return to Quinnipiac University for the fall 2007 semester and the perpetrator has yet to be caught.