A hate crime targeting a member of Black Student Union (BSU) occurred in Larned Hall on Sunday, Oct. 29. This is the third hate crime in one month targeting BSU members in Larned.
Senior and BSU president Destinee Morris was the target of the latest crime.
Morris found a flier she had hung outside of her door, advertising for BSU’s weekly meeting, ripped nearly in half and a note under her door on Sunday evening. The note stated, “Open for surprise pt 2! Who is next?” Inside, it read, “Hows [sic] the n-words club! [sic] – Fuck yall [sic].”
Earlier in Oct., a similar message was written on another BSU flier, which was hung outside of two other BSU members’ door. Days later, the same individuals’ door was graffitied with a racial slur.
Morris said, “I think the incidents are only making BSU stronger. We can tell some people don’t want us on campus.”
She added the number of professors and students who participated in Tuesday’s protest shows there are people on campus who do support the students of BSU.
Bri St. Pierre, a sophomore and member of BSU, said, “Even though it happened on one person’s door, it’s like it happened to all of us.”
Junior Cawin Dixon said, “If you feel bold enough to do that, say it to our faces.”
Early Monday morning, President F. Javier Cevallos sent out a campus-wide email condemning the racist incident.
“We must remain vigilant and unified in the face of the hatred that has occurred within our community. We are determined to find person(s) responsible for these actions and hold them accountable,” said Cevallos.
He added, “I know that you are not interested in words, you are interested in action.”
At a forum on Oct. 13, which was held to address the prior two incidents, many students expressed their frustration about the lack of action being taken by administrators to prevent hate crimes on campus. To acknowledge this, Cevallos said instead of holding another forum, a “University-wide unity workshop” will be held Monday, Nov. 6.
Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community development, said this interactive event will allow attendees to participate in “working groups.”
On Monday, Oct. 30, González sent another campus-wide email which included a document detailing the response of multiple administrative offices to the recent instances of hate on campus.
“Given the racial incident that occurred last night, we thought it was important to provide you with an immediate update on everything the University has been working on over the past two weeks in response to these incidents,” said González in her email.
According to the “Response” document in the email, “When our core values are violated by those with hate in their hearts, we must reinforce our commitment to our core values.” The University’s core values are “the belief that individuals of differing cultures, perspectives and experiences are welcomed, respected, valued and supported.”
González’s email also announced “a $1,000 reward for any student or non-employee with information that could lead investigators to any student or non-employee who has information that leads to the successful identification of the individual(s) responsible for the following acts who or whom committed these crimes.”
Regarding the reward, González said administrators “strongly suspect that people know who it is and if they’re on the fence for whatever reason … to me that means that they’re complicit.”
She added, “If their conscience doesn’t work in our favor, maybe a monetary incentive will work.”
Cevallos sent an additional email on Wednesday summarizing updates from FSUPD Chief Brad Medeiros. The email, titled “Updates,” informed students that FSUPD has sought assistance from the FBI, will be installing additional cameras around campus and will continue increased foot patrols.
Sergeant Martin Laughlin of FSUPD said, “Our office contacted the FBI a few days ago. … We just want to work with every agency we can to resolve this matter.”
As for the cameras, Laughlin said, “I’m unclear right now as to where they’re going to go.
“This is an unfortunate event that happened and we’re going to do our best to find out what person or persons did the said act,” he said.
He added it is unknown at this time whether or not the three incidents were committed by the same individual.
González said students will be involved in the decision-making process about installing security cameras within the residence halls.
She said unless students share information when incidents happen, there is nothing the administration or FSUPD can do.
“One thing I’ve found out as a result of this incident is that this has happened to other students and they’ve just wiped their white boards and not told anybody. … Now we have to dig deeper to make sure that if someone experiences something like that, they have someone to turn to,” said Gonzalez.