Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud responded to the racist graffiti found in a residence hall last week, calling on his staff to communicate more widely and quickly about the investigation.
Racial slurs against black and Asian people were found written on surfaces in Day Hall bathrooms, according to The Daily Orange student newspaper, which was first to report on the vandalism Monday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo later the same day directed the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force and the state Division of Human Rights to investigate. SU officials said they welcomed the state’s assistance.
Students first alerted authorities on Thursday. Officers from the Syracuse University Department of Public Safety and Syracuse Police Department have been investigating, officials said.
Some students and groups were critical of the university’s handling of the incident. The SU Residence Hall Association called for more transparency in a post on its Instagram page.
Syverud said in a campus-wide message Tuesday he was disappointed that the communication across the university wasn’t better. University officials met with the students on the floors of the residence hall where the vandalism occurred. Syverud said he appreciated the response by leadership toward the students directly impacted, but acknowledged the repercussions were far-reaching and a concern beyond Day Hall.
“It’s clear that the members of the leadership team should have communicated more swiftly and broadly,” Syverud said. He pledged to be “increasingly timely” in sharing updates with the campus community.
Syverud said in his message that investigators had interviewed students and collected evidence from the dormitory bathrooms where the messages were written.
Cuomo, in Syracuse for a separate announcement, encouraged the university to take the incident seriously. He offered remarks on what he described as one of many “attacks” that have happened during a difficult political time for the country.
Chancellor Syverud said in his message he was seriously concerned by the graffiti and vandalism, calling it a “wrongful act.”
“It’s our shared responsibility to make Syracuse University a welcoming, safe and inclusive learning and living environment for all,” he said.
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