About 30 Graduate Student Instructors gathered in Haven Hall on Wednesday night to hang more than 1,000 fliers adorned with slogans such as “Maize and Blue are queer too” and “I support a woman’s right to choose,” in support of minority groups at the University.
Rackham student Jocelyn Frelier organized the event in response to alleged acts of vandalism that occurred late Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning on the fourth floor of Haven Hall.
The students claimed that fliers and posters in support of LGBT rights, feminism and African American studies were torn down and defaced throughout multiple departments, primarily in the Department of American Culture
Frelier said she first learned about the incident through multiple Facebook posts, including a statement posted to the page of Scott Kurashige, the director of the University’s Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program.
Kurashige — whose office is located in Haven Hall — wrote in a statement to the Daily that fliers hanging in the hall portraying issues of diversity had been torn down in his department. He said some of his colleagues working in fields such as Arab American Studies, Native American Studies, African American Studies, Women’s Studies, and LGBT studies reported similar events.
Kurashige added that the University should denounce the vandalism out of respect to these areas of study.
“It’s important for the University to affirm that these are vital and essential areas of scholarship, while taking proactive measures to make the valuable contributions of work done in these fields accessible to all,” Kurashige said.
He added that Gregory Dowd, the chair of the Department of American Culture, is collecting information to “assess the overall impact” of the vandalism, and Dowd has been in contact with University officials.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the University’s Department of Public Safety conducted a thorough investigation Wednesday morning, but will continue to look into the incident and determine an appropriate response.
“Our understanding is that their investigation determined that the incident was not hate-related,” Fitzgerald said. “That said, we certainly understand that many people would still be concerned about this type of incident happening on our campus.”
DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said University police canvassed departments throughout Haven Hall after reports of the vandalism, and do not believe the alleged crime constitutes a bias incident.
DPS reported in its incident log that the act “did not appear to be malicious as materials were not strewn about.”
Regardless of confirmation of the crime, Frelier said she and the other students turned out to show their support and offer messages of inclusion to their classmates.
“The group of student’s that’s here … represents a group of people who were, A, disturbed by the vandalism that occurred in this building last night, and B, disappointed with the University’s lack of response or lack of addressing the vandalism,” Frelier said.
Frelier said the posters she and the other GSIs created display words of encouragement from University students against the reported vandalism.
“A lot of people who were not able to come but wanted to make their voices heard in some capacity would give us a statement that they wanted us to hang for them,” she said.
Rackham student Paige Rafoth said she attended the event because she believes the alleged vandalism that transpired was a hate crime targeted at certain minority demographics at the University.
“The University needs to share this information so that the students know that it happened,” Rafoth said. “It needs to be addressed and denounced, (and) in a timely manner too.”
Rackham student Silvina Yi said she too found out about the vandalism through a Facebook post and became distressed that a potentially hate-related crime could occur at a public institution “in this day and age.”
“It made me want to send a message of inclusion, and a message of love and understanding that this is a safe place and it should be a safe place for everybody,” Yi said.
Daily News Editor Paige Pearcy and Daily Staff Reporter Katie Burke contributed to this report.