Governor Cuomo calls for investigation into racist graffiti found at SU residence hall

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Governor Cuomo ordered an investigation after racial slurs were found in a Syracuse University residence.

On Thursday, November 7th, racist graffiti was found on the 4th and 6th floors of Day Hall on the Syracuse University campus. Students alerted authorities and the school’s Department of Public Safety has been investigating the incident.

All of this comes as a student organization on campus met to discuss how to move forward.

“Any form of prejudice, we have to tackle as a community,” says one of the students at Monday night’s meeting.

The “Juvenile Urban Multicultural Program,” also known as JUMP, is a group where college students mentor local middle and high school students.

“We thought that we were the best organization to present this atmosphere for students to come in and talk about ways we can fix issues on our campus,” says Kenyona Chaney, JUMP President.

“We’re not just gonna be expressing our feelings tonight. We’re actually going to express solutions, reactions, and steps that we can take for this to not happen again in the future,” she says.

Those who attended Monday night’s meeting shared their feelings about the incidents, and they want SU to take action. Most of them, looking for communication and transparency, something they didn’t receive from the college right away.

“And the issues that really lies with us, regardless of the slurs, is that that issue was not presented to the campus as a whole,” says Chaney.

Roman Doile, SU Freshman, says, “It was people that I know, friends of mine that brought this to my attention, and when my friends were upset, it made me upset as well.”

And Monday night’s meeting is just the first step.

“We here, which is a start, but we just don’t need to be here. There needs to be a next step,” says a student.

All are determined to push for change.

Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement on Monday night condemning the incident.

“I’m disgusted by the recent rash of hateful language found scrawled on the walls at Syracuse University, where students from around the world are drawn each year in the pursuit of higher learning. These types of hateful and bigoted actions seek to splinter and segregate our communities, and they have no place in New York – period. 

“I have directed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force and State Division of Human Rights to assist local authorities in the investigation of these hateful acts. We will do everything in our power to prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo

The school, also condemning the racial slurs. Below is the letter from Syracuse University’s Vice President for the Student Experience, Robert Hradsky sent out to students Monday evening.

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) is investigating racist graffiti and vandalism that occurred on the 4th and 6th floors of Day Hall last week. On Thursday, Nov. 7, students first alerted authorities, prompting an investigation by DPS.

Since that time, our priority has been the students living in the communities where the vandalism and graffiti were found. Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Keith Alford, DPS Chief Bobby Maldonado and Dean of Students Marianne Thomson have met with residents of Day Hall’s 4th and 6th floors to discuss what happened and to offer resources and support to ensure they feel safe and respected. We regret not communicating more broadly.

The investigation is ongoing and will continue until those responsible are identified and held accountable. Members of our campus community with any information are asked to contact DPS at 315.443.2224. You can also make an anonymous report to DPS by using the Silent Witness tool.

We condemn all racist language and actions. We remain focused on being a welcoming and inclusive campus environment, free of intolerance, bigotry and prejudice.

We recognize the impact this type of incident can have on our students, faculty and staff, particularly those from underrepresented communities. There are many resources available to support campus community members, including:

Students seeking counseling services may contact the Barnes Center at The Arch 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 315.443.8000. Additional services are provided by the Dean of Students Office, Monday through Friday, by calling 315.443.4357.

In addition, students can visit the STOP Bias website to report or receive support for bias-related incidents.

For faculty and staff, assistance is available through Carebridge, the University’s Faculty and Staff Assistance Program. Trained clinicians are available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached at 800.437.0911.

For additional support and services, the campus community may contact Hendricks Chapel at 315.443.2901.

We will continue to work with students, faculty and staff to affirm the dignity and worth of every member of our community.

Sincerely,

Robert Hradsky, Ed.D.
Vice President for the Student Experience

Syracuse University

On Tuesday, Chancellor Kent Syverud issued a letter that reads:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I am writing this morning to express my serious concern over the racist graffiti and vandalism found in Day Hall. I also want to address our response to this wrongful act, the status of the investigation and our focus right now.

First, I want to speak to the University’s response to this incident. It’s clear that the members of the leadership team should have communicated more swiftly and broadly. I am disappointed that didn’t happen in this case. While, I appreciate the personalized and immediate care our leaders provided to Day Hall residents directly impacted by this incident, repercussions are far-reaching and are a concern to us all.

Next, I want to provide an update on the investigation, which remains active at this time. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) was first alerted to the racist graffiti and vandalism on the 4th and 6th floors of Day Hall on Thursday, November 7. In partnership with the Syracuse Police Department, DPS initiated an investigation immediately. To date, the investigation has included interviews with students and evidence collection. DPS has followed several leads and continues to work aggressively to find the individual or individuals responsible. Additionally, the New York State Police’s Hate Crimes Task Force has offered its support and we are collaborating to make full use of its resources. I anticipate this investigation will continue to be fluid. While I want to ensure we maintain the integrity of the investigation, I have asked my team to be increasingly timely in sharing updates, particularly as new facts are discovered.

Over the last several days, Bobby Maldonado, DPS chief, Marianne Thomson, dean of students, and Keith Alford, chief diversity and inclusion officer, have met multiple times with students directly impacted. This includes a Day Hall meeting where students expressed their concerns and sought action and support. It also includes the conversation that occurred last night during a student organization’s previously scheduled meeting. These meetings will continue today and members of my team will be on hand this evening at the Residence Hall Association Open Forum.

I have asked them to be open and receptive to hearing and acting on constructive feedback. It’s our shared responsibility to make Syracuse University a welcoming, safe and inclusive learning and living environment for all.

Sincerely,
Chancellor Kent Syverud

Syracuse University

The Syracuse University Residence Hall Association will be hosting an open forum Tuesday night from 8 to 10 p.m. It will be held in Lyman Hall room 132. All are welcome to attend.

For more local news, follow Adrienne Smith on Twitter @AdrienneSmithTV

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