A series of hateful messages have led to a “day of solidarity” at Ohio’s Oberlin College. Classes were canceled Monday as administrators sought to address the outbreak of racist, antigay and anti-Semitic messages scrawled across the liberal institution’s campus.
College President Marvin Krislov apologized to students affected by the messages during an assembly at the school’s chapel.
“From what we have seen, we believe these actions are the work of a very small number of cowardly people,” Krislov told students, according to the New York Times. He did not specify whether the suspects are students or trespassers on campus.
Krislov said that further information is being withheld because of the ongoing investigation of campus and Oberlin city police.
In the past weeks, graffiti with slurs, swastikas and other hateful symbols have appeared across the school’s campus. Throughout February, Black History Month posters were defaced with similar language, and a school water fountain was labeled “Whites Only.” The college newspaper identified six occurrences of vandalism during the month.
The incidents came to a head when students reported seeing a figure wearing a Ku Klux Klan-like hooded robe near the Afrikan Heritage House on campus late Sunday night. Though police could not confirm the individual’s presence, college administrators acted decisively, canceling Monday’s classes.
“They’ll be addressing ways to publicly respond to the bias incidents with what I call positive propaganda, and let people know, whoever the culprits are, that they’re being watched, and people are taking care of themselves and each other,” Meredith Gadsby, the chairwoman of Oberlin’s Africana Studies Department told the New York Times.
Oberlin is well known as one of the first American colleges to admit female and African-American students, and is still acknowledged as one of the most liberal in the nation.