Another racially offensive message was discovered on a white board by Resident Assistant (RA) staff in Gage Hall at 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12 University Police (UPD) Chief David Dugatkin said.
Dugatkin said the “offensive message” read “Nigger* Alert,” what UPD believes could be lyrics from a song by rap artist Drake titled “All Me.” The college is currently investigating the possible causes of the act, Dugatkin said.
“Whether it was quoting lyrics or intending to be offensive does not matter,” Dugatkin said. “Bad intent or good intent, you have to think a step or two ahead. These are very hurtful things to say and are not accepted in our society.”
President Donald Christian condemned the postings in an email titled “Let’s Talk About Race,” addressed to the campus community on Wednesday morning. “Saddened and angered to report” the posting, Christian said it “seem[ed] to have been directed at a particular individual student.”
“Hate speech must be rebutted with educative, thoughtful, respectful speech that unifies rather than divides us,” Christian said. “We must create more opportunities to educate each other about the motivation for such incidents and their impact on our students and our community. “
Christian said the upcoming “Let’s Talk About Race, Gender, and Identity” symposium sponsored by the Student Association (SA) on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. in the Multi Purpose Room of the Student Union, will prove to be “one important step” in conjunction with an upcoming workshop planned for student and campus leaders in the spring to encourage conversations about racial issues.
“I know from my conversations recently with students in the residence halls that students are interested in having their professors – beyond a small subset of disciplines – acknowledge and discuss these incidents and their underlying issues,” Christian said. “I encourage such conversations, in and out of the classroom, difficult as they are.”
Christian also said he hopes to work in cooperation with Executive Director of Compliance and Campus Climate Tahena Pacheco-Dunn to develop a forum to maintain momentum in the discussions and encourage ongoing conversations on race.
Citing a process called “Dismantling Racism” he organized while serving as dean at another university, Christian said the most effective solutions would be found through “communal action and discussion of difficult issues that have plagued U.S. society our entire history,” rather than through individual reactions to isolated incidents.
However, Christian said he would prefer that the process be the fruit of collaborations between student and faculty leadership.
“Administration alone cannot achieve success in addressing such complex, deeply rooted issues,” he said.
SA Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance Jordan Taylor said he believes the semester’s trend of racial postings is indicative of greater social issues on campus.
“I wasn’t really shocked by it, or anything. I was just like, ‘oh yeah, there’s another one,’” Taylor said. “You can see it’s an ongoing thing and we have another example of it; there’s some kind of culture that’s forming and once you separate yourself from something and dehumanize something, you can justify however you treat it and think of it.”
Going in to the upcoming symposium, Taylor said the additional incident only reaffirms the need for an increase in conversation, giving credibility to its cause.
He said he hopes in the future for change on a curricular level. He said the addition of more non-western courses and a more thorough introduction to the history, philosophy and contributions of people of color would “give credit where credit is due” and foster a better cultural understanding throughout campus.
“That will kind of bridge the gap from the way people see white people and people of color,” Taylor said. “If we all notice that we are all humans who have brought something to world and contributed … instead of identifying with our separate things, we can identify with each other and decrease the likelihood of another thing like this happening.”
* Editor’s Note: The New Paltz Oracle does not condone use of this derogatory language. In accordance with Associated Press Style, this word was printed because it was “essential to the story” in that it provided facts related to the incidents described in the article.