Last week, a racially-offensive sticker making references to Jim Crow laws was placed above a water fountain in the Humanities Building. Later in the week, more inflammatory, racist language was found in Lefevre Hall. There are ongoing investigations regarding the offenses and the campus police are looking to apprehend those responsible.
We at The New Paltz Oracle are disgusted and shocked that such an act of hate happened on our campus. We are confused as to why any person would think this behavior is acceptable and deeply insulted that this could occur in our home. Such actions can only be the fault of poor understanding and ignorance.
We would like to commend various members of our community, though, for the compassionate way they’ve dealt with such a despicable display of ignorance and hate. In the face of something so repulsive, it is important that we maintain the sense of understanding many of us have always valued in our community. Now is not the time for hatred, but instead the time to embrace our varying heritages, creeds and lifestyles and to celebrate them. It’s a time to remember that we can create the society we want to live in.
The New Paltz community has diverse voices and we’ve always been proud of the many wonderfully kind and tolerant people we live with. Everywhere you look, from the clubs to the classes, students on our campus engage in an exchange of cultures and ideas. We have numerous clubs catering to the specific cultures and interests of our students like the Black Student Union, African Women’s Alliance, Jam Asia, Chabad, Hillel, the Queer Action Coalition and more. In the past few weeks alone, students have been observing cultures through events like Black Solidarity Day and the taking LGBTQ Climate Survey. In spite of the hatred that may exist in the hearts of troubled individuals, this interest and effort to learn from one another gives us hope.
We would also like to acknowledge SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian, University Police Chief David Dugatkin and the members of the Student Association E-Board for their speedy response to the situation. The fact that e-mails were sent out about the first incident within a day of it happening indicate that officials took the situation as seriously as they should have. We hope law enforcement officials will soon find the culprit or culprits and bring them to justice.
Here in New Paltz, we would hope that the people of our community strive for the highest level of respectful conduct. Many of the residents of our area are proof that it is more than possible to live by these standards. We encourage every member of the community to challenge themselves and attend the upcoming forums designed to discuss these issues, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Educate yourselves. Go to these talks and listen to what others have to say. Talk about sensitive issues like race and learn more about your biases and the biases of others.
That being said, we realize that sadly some may not be shocked that these sorts of incidents could happen here. It would be just as ignorant to go on thinking that hatred and prejudice do not exist everywhere. New Paltz is not exempt, and it is extremely unfortunate that members of our own community have been made to feel uncomfortable and even unsafe by the Caucasian majority. But in the end, we hope the voices of reason will ring out stronger and louder than any white supremacist. Racist ideals have been embedded in countless aspects of American culture, but we cannot overcome institutionalized hate if we do not come together and try.
Last and least, to the person(s) responsible for these notes: We at The New Paltz Oracle are not interested in your motives. We are insulted and shocked by the gall and hate-mongering exhibited by your actions. Though we take the matter of bigotry very seriously, we consider you beneath even our contempt. We hope to leave you with the assurance that there is no place for such behavior on our campus. New Paltz is not the sort of mindless community that could be swept up in the bile you’re spewing. Hate is one thing we will certainly never tolerate.
New Paltz is strong and will, without a doubt, bypass these transgressions with grace and dignity, continuing to thrive as a foreword thinking and united community.