Students at St. Mary’s College Unsettled by On-Campus Racist Acts, Including Assault, Arson

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St. Mary’s College in St. Mary’s, Md. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)
St. Mary’s College in St. Mary’s, Md. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

St. Mary’s College in Maryland is the latest university to be hit by a series of incendiary racial incidents, according to news reports. These incidents include the display of swastikas and the Confederate flag and several suspicious fires.

Last year, campuses around the country became flash points of racial conflict as Black activists protested monuments that honored Confederate heroes and complained about university administrators failing to take action on racial harassment.

  • In one incident at the University of Missouri, the football team threatened to go on strike over lack of action on racial harassment, causing the resignation of President Tim Wolfe.
  • Students at Georgetown University successfully protested two buildings named after a president who authorized the sale of slaves. The names of the buildings have since been changed.
  • At the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, students were captured on video singing a racist song. University President David Boren later ordered the fraternity to shut down.

In February, Cody Young, a math student at the University of Texas-Austin, filed a criminal complaint after he was racially abused and pelted with bottles by a group of white students. The local SAE chapter later expelled two members involved in the incident, according to The Daily Texan.

The Washington Post said the arson attacks at St. Mary’s College may be push back against the heightened prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has become active on college campuses.

Eric Schroeder, a student who serves on the board of trustees, told The Post the arson attacks were a direct violation of what the university’s stands for.

“Throughout the past week, our community has faced several incidents of arson in Dorchester Hall. This destruction of property is shocking and is in direct opposition to the code of conduct we follow at St. Mary’s,” he said. “For many of us, myself included, feel as though our community is being defaced and disrespected, and that students’ lives are being senselessly put at risk. This is not the first time our community has faced threats, whether internal or external, against our personal and material well being. In response to these threats, we have always come together to face these challenges as a community.”

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