University of Massachusetts officials recently launched an investigation after a racist message was found scribbled on a bathroom mirror on Sept. 22.
Kiara Batista, a freshman at UMass, told the Daily Collegian UMass newspaper the racial slur was written in a Melville Hall bathroom on a Saturday morning. The message read, “Hang Melville niggers,” on a single-stall mirror.
Batista reported the incident to the school’s residence director, Trevor Dority, who emailed Melville residents on Monday about the “bias-related incident that occurred Saturday, September 22 in the Melville lobby bathroom involving the writing of a racial slur.”
UMass police are looking for the suspect responsible for the racial slur and “remain committed to identifying the person responsible for it.”
University spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said the perpetrator could’ve possibly been an outsider, Mass Live reported. She added, “There was a high number of guests signed in to Melville for the weekend.”
Batista told the news outlet that she and many other students were upset about Dority’s wording in the email sent out.
“It shouldn’t have been called biased, because that makes it seem like it’s not as important as it is. It was literally targeted toward the Black people of this residential space,” said the student said.
A meeting was held on Monday evening at 7 p.m. among Melville residents to discuss the racist matter. However, officials told students not to speak about the incident outside of the building, according to Batista.
“They wanted us to keep it just in our area, but we thought that it was important to reach out and talk to other people because there’s a possibility that the person who wrote it could’ve been from another residential area,” she expressed.
Dettloff stated, “The university rejects racism in all forms and stands with our students, especially our students of color, who feel unsafe, vulnerable and angry in the aftermath of this incident.”
The spokeswoman also encouraged students and the UMass community to “come together to fight hate in the wake of this recent incident.”
Sazia Patel, a legal studies major at the university, said the incident left many of the students “feeling really unsafe.”
Dettloff said that UMass is reshifting its focus on creating an “inclusive campus community” for students especially with it being so early on in the semester.
This is the second recent race-related incident on the Amherst, Mass., campus. On Sept. 17, someone called security on a Black man entering the university grounds and said he appeared to be “agitated.” However, officers discovered the man was a Black employee at UMass and worked on campus for 14 years.