UVa asks students to stand up for each other amid harassment on campus
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Reports of verbal attacks and acts of aggression have grown around the nation after President-Elect Donald Trump won the election on Nov. 8, and on Friday, officials at the University of Virginia addressed such actions on campus, including the paid leave of police officers who shouted “Make America Great Again” at students.
The same day that students interrupted a Board of Visitors meeting at the Rotunda, to demand the school administration take action to protect students and workers from proposed legislation by Trump, President Teresa Sullivan distributed a letter intended to assuage student concerns and pledge commitment to a safe environment.
Students reported that UVA police reportedly taunted them over a police loudspeaker shortly after Trump was elected early Wednesday morning.
A couple of students walking to their dorms on Election Night “were unhappy about the direction the elections had taken,” according to a report by the Daily Progress, and that’s when UVA campus officers began “taunting” students by chanting “Make America Great Again.”
University Chief Operating Officer Pat Hogan told the Daily Progress that such alleged behavior by the officers was “unprofessional” and “inappropriate” and “word of the incident may have undermined student trust in the entire 125-member police force, he said.”
The three officers have been placed on paid administrative leave.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has counted hundreds of instances of “hateful intimidation and harassment” following the presidential election.
The letter from Sullivan is below:
I realize that this has been an emotional week for our University community, with anger, fear, and other emotions brought forth at least in part by the outcome of the election. Some members of our community have been the targets of inappropriate and even hostile insults. These acts of aggression have been directed at our faculty, staff, and students. Similar incidents have been occurring on college campuses and in other settings across the nation, and this sort of behavior is alarming wherever it occurs.
Some of the incidents at UVA have been verbal attacks related to the political beliefs, gender, or sexual orientation of a person or group of persons. These incidents may fall short of breaking the law, but they are troubling in a community in which we expect that every member will be treated with civility and respect. I hope that all of you join me in denouncing this behavior, and I encourage our faculty members to reinforce in your classrooms that this behavior is repugnant and that we condemn it. Our shared values of inclusion, respect, and civility demand that we do so.
In addition to these verbal insults, we have received reports of incidents in which persons have threatened physical violence against individuals. We take these threats extremely seriously, and we are working closely with UVA Police Chief Mike Gibson to assess them and to respond appropriately. I encourage every member of our community to use the Just Report It system to report such incidents if you witness them. In this community of trust, we rely on our students to be active bystanders and to stand up for your classmates, regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs. As faculty and staff, we will stand with you.
As we approach the end of a difficult week, I encourage members of our University community to rely on each other as sources of support and encouragement. Our shared values and our commitment to decency and civility give us strength and resilience when we need it most.
Here’s what some Americans report dealing with across the country.
Muslim student threatened with lighter
Ann Arbor police were investigating reports a man approached a Muslim student and threatened to set her on fire with a lighter unless she removed her hijab.
Police told CNN on Saturday they were “actively investigating and soliciting leads from witnesses” to the reported incident.
The suspect is described as 20 to 30 years old, unkempt and intoxicated, according to the University of Michigan.
Advocacy organization CAIR-MI said the alleged attack was just the latest anti-Muslim incident reported since Trump won the election.
“Our nation’s leaders, and particularly President-elect Donald Trump, need to speak out forcefully against the wave of anti-Muslim incidents sweeping the country after Tuesday’s election,” Executive Director Dawud Walid said.
Racist messages target black students
Black freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania found “violent, racist and thoroughly disgusting” messages on their phones Friday after they were added to a racist GroupMe account, the university said.
The account on the group messaging service appears to be based in Oklahoma, officials said, and investigators are trying to track down who’s responsible.
According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, the messages included racial slurs and images of lynchings.
“This is absolutely vile material and completely offensive to everyone on our campus. We are both angry and saddened that it was directed to our students or to anyone. The people responsible for this are reprehensible,” university officials said. “We have increased campus safety and are reaching out to support the affected students in every way we can, and want them to know that the entire Penn community stands with them.”
‘Trump!’ written on Muslim prayer room door in NYC
At the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, students discovered the name of the President-elect written on the door to a prayer room for Muslims on Wednesday, school officials said.
“Our campus is not immune to the bigotry that grips America,” the NYU Muslim Students Association said in a Facebook posting.
School spokesman Kathleen Hamilton said the school has a lot of immigrant students, with about 20% from abroad.
“It’s a real melting pot here,” she said. “We all believe this very much, that the university is a place of free expression. It has to be safe to be so.”
The NYPD is investigating. There were no cameras, and the school isn’t sure whether a student is responsible, Hamilton said. She noted that all NYU buildings require a badge for access.
Graffiti in high school: ‘Trump,’ ‘Whites only,’ ‘White America’
Student Moses Karngbaye said he was terrified to see racist graffiti sprawled inside a bathroom in his Minnesota high school.
“#Go back to Africa” and “Make America great again,” someone wrote on a toilet paper dispenser at Maple Grove Senior High School.
“That’s the first time I honestly felt like crying at school,” Karngbaye told CNN affiliate WCCO.
The bathroom door was also covered with graffiti, including “Whites only,” “White America” and “Trump.”
Karngbaye sent photos of the graffiti to his mother, who recalled another message: “Now the white people are going to take over.”
Denise Karngbaye told WCCO she takes the attack personally.
“I train my kids to respect everybody, regardless of their race, their ethnicity, their background,” she said.
San Diego State University president calls incident ‘hate crime’
A San Diego State University student walking to her car was confronted by two men who made comments about Trump and Muslims, SDSU police said.
“Comments made to the student indicate she was targeted because of her Muslim faith, including her wearing of a traditional garment and hijab,” SDSU President Elliot Hirshman said in a statement.
The men grabbed the student’s purse and backpack and removed her keys. After the student returned from calling the police, her car was gone. The suspects are still at large.
Hirshman called the incident a hate crime.
“We condemn this hateful act and urge all members of our community to join us in condemning such hateful acts,” he said. “Hate crimes are destructive to the spirit of our campus, and we urge all members of our community to stand together in rejecting hate.”
Middle school students: ‘Build the wall!’
A day after Trump was elected, some students at Michigan’s Royal Oak Middle School started chanting in the cafeteria: “Build the wall! Build the wall!”
A video of the chanting, which has been viewed millions of times on social media, appears to stop after a girl mentions the incident is being recorded.
Royal Oaks Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said school personnel in the cafeteria responded to the incident.
“We are working with our students to help them understand the impact of their words and actions on others in their school community,” the superintendent said in a statement Thursday.
“Our school district and each building in it works every day to be a welcoming community for all, inclusive and caring, where all students know they are valued, safe and supported.”
Graffiti: Neither black lives nor black votes matter
The day after Trump’s victory, someone painted racist messages referencing the election on a wall in Durham, North Carolina.
“Black lives don’t matter and neither does your votes,” the message said, according to CNN affiliate WNCN.
On Thursday, crews came to paint over the graffiti.
Phyllis Terry, whose family owns the JC’s Kitchen restaurant next to the graffiti, told the affiliate she was heartened by the effort to cover up the message.
“I am amazed. I am really touched this morning that the community has rallied together,” she said.
Graffiti about ‘safe space’ at Louisiana university
Authorities at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette discovered Wednesday morning that somebody chalked the words “Trump,” “Build wall” and “[Expletive deleted] your safe space” in front of the library, The Vermillion student newspaper reported on Twitter.
Campus police Lt. Billy Abrams confirmed the “safe space” chalking is being investigated because it’s offensive. The other chalkings were not being investigated and all were removed with pressure washing, he said.
Nazi-themed graffiti in Philadelphia
The Anti-Defamation League has decried Nazi-themed graffiti that appeared in South Philadelphia.
“We are horrified by the appearance of hate graffiti on a storefront in South Philadelphia,” said Nancy K. Baron-Baer, the organization’s regional director, in a statement posted Wednesday on the group’s website. “Swastikas and the Nazi salute send a message of intolerance and hate to the entire community. The fact that today is the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht adds another layer to this already sickening act.”
Kristallnacht was when Nazis rampaged through German towns on November 9-10, 1938, smashing stores and windows of buildings owned by Jews. The name of the incident, also known as “Night of the Broken Glass,” refers to the shards of glass left on sidewalks.
Baron-Baer said the group views the graffiti as an isolated incident but stressed that “we cannot allow this behavior to become routine.”
Philadelphia police reported several incidents in which walls and vehicles were defaced. So far no arrests have been made.
The words “Sieg Heil 2016” and “Trump” — with a swastika substituted for the T in Trump — were spray-painted on a building’s glass window on South Broad Street, police said.
The words “Trump Rules,” “Trump Rules Black [expletive]” and the letter “T” were spray-painted on three vehicles and a house on South Sixth Street. Police said surveillance video captured a male of unknown race doing the spray-painting about 5 a.m. Wednesday.
A swastika and “Trump” were written on a utility box at Broad and Reed streets.
It was unclear if the graffiti was a protest of Trump or a pro-Nazi act.
Black doll hung from curtain rod at college
At Canisius College in west New York state, students posted photos of a black doll hanging from a dormitory curtain rod on social media, and one student created a meme with language about “Trump fans,” college President John J. Hurley said in a message posted on the school website.
Hurley said the “disturbing incident” started when a campus visitor left the black doll in a dorm laundry room Tuesday night. Students placed the doll in an elevator as a prank, he said, and people took photos and posted them on social media. Some people mistook two strings that attached the doll’s head to the body as a noose, he said.
Later, students took the doll to a residence hall and hung it from the curtain rod. Students who saw those photos notified campus police, who investigated, Hurley said.
Students have been suspended and may be expelled, he said. An outside investigator will be hired to determine if any students should be prosecuted for possible hate crimes, as several parents and students urged, Hurley said. He did not name the students or say how many were involved, citing privacy concerns.
On Wednesday, the school held an open session on the doll incident attended by about 300 people. “It is clear to me that this episode has exposed some deeply held concerns among our students of color and that we need to go well beyond addressing the immediate incident involving the doll,” Hurley said.
California student: Man yanked my hijab
A student at San Jose State University said she was walking to her car in a parking garage Wednesday afternoon when a man came up behind her and pulled at her head scarf.
The force he used caused the victim to lose her balance and choked her. The suspect, who ran away, was a fair-skinned male wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt.
Campus officials are investigating. “No one should experience this kind of behavior at San Jose State,” the school said.
Students staged a rally on Wednesday morning at the Tommie Smith and John Carlos statue to protest the election of Donald Trump, the San Jose Mercury-News reported. A fight broke out between Trump supporters and other students, the newspaper said.
‘Deportation’ letters handed out at school
A student at Shasta High School in Redding, California, posted a video on Twitter of himself handing letters with the word “deportation” written across the top to half a dozen students, school district Superintendent Jim Cloney said in a statement.
The students appeared to be of a variety of ethnicities, Cloney said. After talking to the student and his parents, the video was taken down, Cloney said. The student said he thought the video was funny, Cloney said.
“Needless to say, we don’t think this sort of behavior is funny nor reflective of the culture of Shasta High,” he said. He said appropriate discipline will be applied.
***Reporting from CNN Wire contributed to this report***