In response to an incident of racist graffiti in Mary Markley Residence Hall, the Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution Tuesday night to spend $3,000 on educating students about hate crimes.
Swastikas and the initials “KKK” — for the white supremacist group Klu Klux Klan — were drawn on several white boards affixed to doors in Markley’s First Little Hall early Saturday morning.
The resolution passed unanimously. Ari Liner, co-chair of MSA’s Campus Safety Commission, said that the goal of the resolution was to create a feeling of safety for all students and to ensure that “no one has to worry about being persecuted.”
“We’re gonna be there this time,” Budget Priorities Committee Chair Stuart Wagner said.
The resolution allocates $2,450 for advertising, $300 for a forum and $250 for posters. MSA’s funding is provided by student fees.
Wagner said the majority of the advertising funds will be used to educate students through newspaper ads, handouts and posted flyers.
“We will use the funds as we see fit,” Wagner said.
The Department of Public Safety dispatched officers to Markley after receiving a report of racist graffiti at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said.
Brown said that while whiteboard defamation is not uncommon, this incident was unique in its scope and the fact that so many white boards bore the same messages.
But because the graffiti was not damaging and therefore does not constitute a crime, DPS is investigating it as a “hate incident.”
“It does not have the elements of a “hate crime” because there was no damage,” Brown said.
So far there are no suspects in the case, Brown added.
The swastika is a symbol, consisting of a cross with its arms bent at right angles, that was used in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and ’40s.
Both swastikas and the initials of the Ku Klux Klan represent racism and hatred.
Students living in the hall said they were concerned with the message but did not fear for their safety.
The prevailing opinion among First Little residents was that the graffiti was disturbing, but not physically threatening.
“I wasn’t there, but my roommate went out to the bathroom and when he returned he noticed five swastikas and KKK written on the board,” said LSA freshman Michael Feldman, a resident of First Little.
“I was shocked. I thought that the person who did it was obviously drunk but it’s still a really shitty thing to do,” said LSA freshman Antoine Brantley. When asked whether he felt threatened or worried, Brantley said he did not fear for his safety, but he was bothered. “Who ever did this obviously did it for a reason.”
LSA freshman Paul Tassi felt the incident was blown out of proportion.
“I got the e-mail (from Markley staff) and (wondered), did someone spray-paint this on the wall or something? Turns out it was just like marker boards and such,” Tassi said. “I mean if it was, like, carved into my door, maybe I’d worry … Drunk people are just stupid.”
Brown said DPS has not seen a pattern of increased hate crimes and incidents on campus, but urged students to be on the lookout. If anyone has any information on such incidents, Brown said, they should call DPS. There are currently no suspects.
Other recent incidents cited by the MSA resolution include racist slurs written in multiple bathrooms in Angell Hall, the destruction of the large menorah in front of the Chabad house in mid-December and racist graffiti in the men’s bathroom on the fourth floor of the Union.