On February 22, a student found a swastika drawn in a Dakin lounge. Following this incident, various offices have collaborated to facilitate discussion acknowledging the impact of hateful speech on the community. A meeting was held on March 2 in the Merrill Living Room for community members.
On February 28, the administration was made aware of a post on popular community discussion application Yik Yak depicting a poster hanging in an unidentified Merrill hall which read “Hitler did nothing wrong.” Staff members were not able to locate the poster after notification. Dean of students Byron McCrae initially sent an email to Dakin and Merrill residents characterizing the vandalism as “a hate drawing.” The first email to the community at large came on March 4, two days after the forum; this despite immediate campus-wide diffusion by word of mouth and Yik Yak.
Mandatory hall meetings were held in a restorative circle style for Merrill and Dakin, allowing open discussion of the impact these events had on students. Sadness, anger, disappointment, and cynicism were expressed towards a college system and community that has not adequately addressed patterns of oppression on this campus.The motivations of the perpetrators were speculated on. As of now, the identities of those perpetrators is still unknown. “The person who did it, or [any] person who knows anything about it, has a duty to speak up and say so,” student Jay Tilden said.
Whether the perpetrators of these events believed in their sentiments is of no import: the repetition of these violent symbols was executed in a legitimizing manner.
This is not the first time hate messages have been scrawled on walls and bathroom stalls. In spring 2015, similar anti-Semitic vandalism appeared in the Harold F. Johnson library and Robert Crown Center. Racial slurs have been chalked on the walls of the Social Justice LLC’s lounge. In 1977, a cross was burned on the lawn outside Merrill during a student party for the Third World Organization (now known as Students of Underrepresented Cultures and Ethnicities [SOURCE]). It seems that hate is business as usual at Hampshire College. The condemnation by administration should be expected, of course—but what else are they doing to commit themselves to cultivating a campus against hate, instead of a campus complicit with hate? What are all of us, as students and members of this institution, doing to condemn these actions beyond our words?
Another community meeting will be held April 7 at noon at a place to be determined.