SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Syracuse University Department of Public Safety continues to investigate what students are calling a “blatant act of racism.”
According to Syracuse University, on Thursday, November 7 graffiti with racial slurs was found on the fourth and sixth floors of Day Hall on campus. Syracuse University’s Chancellor Kent Syverud admitted in a statement on Tuesday morning that there was a delay in informing the campus about racist graffiti.
NEW DETAILS FROM THURSDAY NIGHT
According to Bobby Maldonado, Chief of Syracuse University Department of Public Safety, his officers responded to the sixth floor of Day Hall and found the racial slurs on Thursday.
“When we arrived we recognized there were racial slurs that were scribbled on a bathroom mirror and also on some light fixtures that had been torn off the ceiling tiles,” Maldonado said. “We also located some racial slurs that were also written on a bulletin board on the fourth floor.”
Chief Maldonado says he believes the vandalism happened during the overnight hours. Several students from both the sixth and fourth floor have been interviewed by DPS.
“We have collected as much physical evidence as we possibly can,” said Maldonado.
Monday night, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the New York State Police to offer its resources to the investigation.
In Syracuse Tuesday, Cuomo characterized the comments as “anti-African American, anti-Asian.”
DPS has been working in collaboration with Syracuse Police and New York State Police. Maldonado says Syracuse Police have provided his department with investigative resources.
Maldonado says he met with members of the New York State Police Bias-Related Crime Unit Tuesday morning. The Chief would not say in what capacity NYSP are contributing specifically, but did say it in both “investigative and technical” areas of the investigation.
“We continue to follow leads at this time and we will continue to do so until we find those responsible,” Maldonado said. He added he is hopeful this is an isolated incident. You can watch the full interview at the bottom of this page.
DPS has increased patrols since the incident occurred.
STUDENTS VOICE THEIR FRUSTRATION
Tuesday night, students were given their first chance to address members of the university’s administration directly during an open forum on campus. NewsChannel 9 was permitted to be at the forum, but no video recording was permitted by the Syracuse University Residence Hall Association.
Dozens of students filled Gifford Auditorium for the forum. Several of them voiced frustration with the university’s lack of transparency and slow response to the student body. For nearly three hours, students took turns expressing their concerns. At one point, several students walked out of the forum in protest.
Sadia Ahmed, President of the Syracuse University Residence Hall Association was one of the mediators for Tuesday’s meeting. The group is now ready to move forward and push for change.
“We received a lot of feedback (Tuesday night) from students who voiced their concerns, voiced resolutions, they voiced things they want to see from the administration,” Ahmed said. “We do plan to take action as a university body. As students and I, myself, and RHA will hold the administration accountable and make sure to check on them to see what they are doing to provide tangible action items and make sure they are checking in with the students and all voices are heard at all times.”
CALLS FOR THE CHANCELLOR
At one point during Tuesday night’s meeting, students began chanting “We want Kent,” referring to the Chancellor of Syracuse University Kent Syverud. According to University staff, Syverud was in Washington D.C. Tuesday night for university-related business.
In a letter to the campus community, Chancellor Kent Syverud wrote “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.”
You can read the full letter here:
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.
Chancellor Kent Syverud
Here is the full interview with Bobby Maldonado, Chief of Syracuse University Department of Public Safety: