Four cases of racist or anti-Semitic graffiti have been discovered on or near Syracuse University’s campus over the last two weeks, prompting outrage among students, the city’s mayor and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The school’s Department of Public Safety on Thursday reported the latest incident ― anti-Asian messages scrawled on the third floor of Day Hall, a mostly freshman residence building.
The same day, a swastika was found drawn in the snow on Comstock Avenue, which runs parallel to school grounds, spurring an investigation by the Syracuse Police Department.
The day before, derogatory language targeting Asians was found inside a bathroom stall of the Physics Building.
Last week, racial slurs aimed at Black and Asian people were seen on the fourth and sixth floors of Day Hall.
It’s not yet clear who’s behind the vandalism or how many people may be involved.
Cuomo said on Monday he was “disgusted by the recent rash of hateful language,” and directed the state police’s hate crimes task force and the state Division of Human Rights to launch a probe of the matter.
“These types of hateful and bigoted actions seek to splinter and segregate our communities, and they have no place in New York ― period,” he said in a press release. “We will do everything in our power to prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”
Mayor Ben Walsh echoed Cuomo’s remarks on Friday, calling the acts “vile and appalling.”
“They violate everything our City stands for and all that we are working to be ― a city that embraces diversity and creates opportunity for all,” he said in a statement. “I reject them and direct city resources to do all that we can to stop them.”
The Daily Orange, SU’s student newspaper, was the first to report on the vandalism, which began on Nov. 6. The university was alerted on Nov. 7, but it wasn’t until four days later ― after the paper highlighted the issue ― that the university issued a public statement condemning the acts.
“We regret not communicating more broadly,” said Robert Hradsky, the school’s vice president for the student experience. “We remain focused on being a welcoming and inclusive campus environment, free of intolerance, bigotry and prejudice.”
For many students, the mea culpa doesn’t cut it.
Otto’s Army, the student fan group for the school’s athletics, named after its mascot, Otto the Orange, boycotted a basketball game against rival Colgate University on Wednesday.
In a Twitter post, the group urged others to take part in the protest “in light of how the university has handled recent hate crimes that have occurred on campus.”
Now, some students are calling for the resignations of university Chancellor Kent Syverud and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Keith Alford if a list of demands is not met by Nov. 20, the Orange reported. On Thursday, more than 200 students gathered to call for the expulsion of anyone found guilty of the vandalism, as well as a forum for students and increased diversity among staff.