By KELLY EMMRICH
University of Mary Washington junior Ahad Shahid and friend Chad Mundie were walking past Lee Hall after watching the film “Moana” on the evening of Feb. 5, when they found a handwritten Swastika on the bulletin board in front of Madison Hall, UMW’s gender neutral housing. In addition to the drawing there was a note at the bottom of the sheet reading “Attention fa**ots!! We could live next door.”
Shahid took a picture of the sign, posted the photo on his twitter account and tagged a UMW twitter account.
On the following Monday, Shahid went in for a meeting with Dean Rucker regarding his tweet and overall concerns for campus safety. Shahid left the meeting feeling unsatisfied and unsure about the future of campus safety.
“The administration is not saying anything from my perspective because they are worried about saying something anti-Trump,” Shahid said. “This isn’t an anti-Trump thing, though. This is an anti-Nazi thing. It’s anti-Semitic trash and they need to address that.”
Both Shahid and Mundie live in Framar House, an international living building. One of the goals of Framar is to educate the campus on worldwide issues, and it plays an integral role in providing cultural programming to the UMW community. When they showed the other residents the sign, many of them felt scared.
“They felt upset, scared, angry. Different ways,” Shahid said. Other Virginia public universities have had similar instances. Late last September, there was an article titled “Epidemic of Racist Incidents” in the publication “Inside Higher Education.” Allan Groves, the dean of University of Virginia made a statement shortly after that laid out different strategies for safety on campus.
“Racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic slurs do not originate in a vacuum,” Groves writes. “They are a product of learned behavior and, unfortunately, ingrained bias against difference. If we are to rid this community of such ugliness, we each must start with an honest look in the mirror.”
One of the strategies that UVA uses to increase campus security is using the anonymous online report site, www.virginia.edu/justreportit/bias. Reports are shared directly with the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights.
In the letter, Groves addresses the fact that the Z society, a secret society at UVA had several fliers on grounds that depicted them endorsing Donald Trump for president. The flier also had a misused Martin Luther King Jr. quote on it. “I became aware of a letter posted at various points on Grounds, purporting to be the Z Society’s endorsement of Donald Trump for President,” writes
Groves. “The Z Society has since disavowed the letter, and it clearly originated from another source. The timing of the letter, the messages contained therein and the use of a quote attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has upset and angered many students and other members of the community, and they are right to use their voices to express these strong feelings. I join them in that sentiment.”
Shahid expressed that he wants to see UMW administration implement some more safety tactics and make a concrete statement with opinion. “I want [the administration] to make a statement that’s not just an email,” Shahid said. “It’s not my job to come up with these solutions. It’s their job.
They need to promote togetherness on this campus when people are feeling isolated.”