A racist word was traced in dust on a University of St. Thomas residence hall bathroom window and has prompted school leadership to schedule a series of discussions and gatherings this week.
Students reported finding the word in Ireland Hall, according to a university e-mail sent Thursday to faculty, staff and students signed by St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan and Kha Yang, the university’s new associate vice president for inclusive excellence.
University administration said later Thursday that the slur targeted blacks.
“It was not clear when the message was written, nor how many students saw it before it was reported,” the campuswide notice said.
Campus police are reviewing surveillance video, interviewing Ireland Hall residents and consulting with St. Paul police in an effort to find whoever is responsible.
The word was on the inside of a window in a communal bathroom that is used by residents in many rooms on the floor. It was not visible from outside the all-male dorm, which houses mostly freshmen.
“We all play a part in helping to build an inclusive culture at St. Thomas,” the e-mail said. “Conduct like this demeans the entire campus community and will not be tolerated. We will continue to aggressively investigate and take strong disciplinary action against individuals who are found to be involved.”
In the meantime, the first of numerous gatherings was held earlier Thursday in the wake of what the e-mail called an incident that “is painful for our community.”
The initial opportunity offered was a multicultural counselor leading a listening session midday Thursday at Student Diversity and Inclusion Services in the university’s Intercultural Center, followed by counselors holding a “Let’s Talk” session and then a teach-in session sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education.
Another event was scheduled Thursday evening, with College of Arts and Sciences Dean Yohuru Williams leading a gathering outside Ireland Hall “to reclaim the space and reaffirm our values,” the e-mail said.
On Friday, an informal “Purple Couch” is scheduled for 2 to 3 p.m. at Student Diversity and Inclusion Services.
In the meantime, school administrators are urging anyone with information about the incident to contact campus police (651-962-5555), the Dean of Students Office (651-962-6050) or the public safety tip line (651-962-TIPS or firstname.lastname@example.org).