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University administrators address vandalism in Haven Hall

By Austen Hufford, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 11, 2012

Administrators sent statements to the University community on Thursday deploring alleged vandalism that occurred earlier this week in Haven Hall.

University Provost Philip Hanlon and LSA Dean Terrence McDonald sent mass e-mails on Thursday expressing concern over the incident, which is still under investigation.

Late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, informational posters — including those supporting LGBT rights, black rights, feminism and multicultural programming — were reportedly torn from bulletin boards in several departments in Haven Hall.

Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown said a number of postings on four floors of Haven Hall were dismantled, but not all of them were discriminatorily biased. The incident is being investigated by DPS as a malicious destruction of property, Brown said, but the department does not believe the alleged crime was a discriminatory incident.

Still, some graduate students and professors have argued that the incident constitutes a biased act, claiming that vandals seemed to primarily target academic departments focused on multicultural education.

About 30 graduate students posted fliers in Mason and Angell Halls that supported free speech and tolerance in response on Wednesday night.

Hanlon’s e-mail — which was sent at about 4:20 p.m. on Thursday — condemned vandalism and intolerance but refrained from directly referring to the vandalism as a bias incident.

“This act of destruction and intolerance is not Michigan,” Hanlon wrote in the e-mail. “Michigan is the sharing of diverse viewpoints and ideas in a safe environment grounded in mutual respect.”

Hanlon concluded his e-mail by urging students to remember the University’s values of multiculturalism and mutual acceptance.

“I encourage all members of the University community to take this opportunity to reaffirm our deepest ethical commitment to diversity and respect, values that make Michigan a recognized leader in higher education and beyond,” Hanlon wrote.

McDonald sent an e-mail addressed to the “Haven Hall Community” that released further details about the vandalism and expressed sorrow for the incident while assuring those who received the e-mail that the building was safe.

“Like you, I was appalled and upset by the news I received Wednesday morning of extensive vandalism to bulletin boards and faculty doors throughout Haven Hall,” McDonald wrote. "This conduct was deplorable, cowardly, and anti-intellectual.”

McDonald wrote that the doors of 11 faculty members were affected by the incident in addition to the boards in hallways. McDonald’s e-mail confirmed that additional DPS patrols would be initiated in the area.

McDonald reaffirmed DPS reports that only some of the removed postings related to race, gender or sexuality, but added that messages concerning class and capitalism were also taken down.

McDonald also wrote that LSA condemns the event and encourages its professors to continue their multicultural studies in defiance of the alleged intolerance.

“The entire college joins me in deploring this attack on our free speech and our commitment to studying the topics that the vandal(s) seemed to want to remove from view,” McDonald wrote.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the administrators' e-mails are in accordance with the University’s established values of diversity and acceptance.

“I think both Dean McDonald and Provost Hanlon make strong statements about what we believe as a University and what they believe about what values the University and the University community hold in the highest regard,” Fitzgerald said.

This story was updated on Friday Oct. 12 at 12:25 a.m.


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