A noose was found hanging in a fraternity house at University of Maryland, College Park; this incident is just one in a recent string of anonymous racial hate crimes on campuses across the country.
On April 27 at 11:39 p.m., campus police responded to a call at Phi Kappa Tau’s chapter house in College Park, Maryland. They were called in response to an incident earlier in the day when around 1:40 p.m. a noose was found hanging in the kitchen of the house. According to the Diamondback, UMD's student newspaper, University Police are investigating
the event as a hate bias incident. This disturbing incident is just one example of many racial hate crimes that have occurred across the country this week, and is the second in the past month at UMD
Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life Director Matt Supple sent an email on Wednesday, May 3 to Greek Life chapter presidents in which he said, "While we do not know who perpetrated this crime, it has impacted the catering staff, the housekeeping staff, and every member of the fraternity."
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UMD's Phi Kappa Tau[/caption]
Supple went on to say that full responsibility lies with everyone at the university, and that they must
...confront bias/hate when we see it. Sadly, this is one more example of hatred and prejudice that continue to poison our society. We must stand together in defiance of this act. We need to ensure people who would perpetrate this type of hate know they do not belong and are not welcome in our chapters, in our community, at the University of Maryland, or in our society."
The president of the chapter, A.J. Coleman, also
responded on Wednesday night, saying, "We are shocked and appalled… The chapter's reaction to this event has been confusion and outrage. For all of us, it is beyond the realm of belief that anyone could have perpetrated such a heinous act."
Much of campus has sprung into action, the overall feeling being that this behavior will not be tolerated at UMD.
A similar event at American University in D.C.
A similar incident occurred at American University, Washington D.C. on Tuesday, May 2 when bananas were found hanging by nooses in trees across campus. Scrawled on the bananas were racially fueled phrases like “AKA FREE,” an apparent reference to Alpha Kappa Alpha, a predominantly black sorority; and “HARAMBE BAIT,” referencing the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was killed last May after a child fell into its enclosure.
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The scene at American University. At least 10 of these were found across campus.[/caption]
This is not the first incident at American University where bananas have been involved in racially charged events. In September 2016, white students were accused of leaving a banana at the door of a black woman’s dorm room and tossing a rotten banana at another. The administration has responded with a “zero-tolerance” statement, but students are frustrated that there has yet to be more transparent action taken to address this issue.
Students themselves have taken action, forming large demonstrations. Hundreds of students walked out of class to the registrar’s office to request withdrawal forms. A symbolic act that expresses their disappointment, but also reminds the university of the powerful bargaining chip the student body holds: tuition.
The F.B.I. is now involved in the investigation.
More Racial Tension and Student Demonstrations in Minnesota
In Minnesota at a small school called St. Olaf’s College, classes were canceled and protests held after one black student, Samantha Wells, found a note on the windshield of her car. The note read: “I am so glad that you are leaving soon. One less n‑‑‑‑‑ that this school has to deal with. You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up.”
However, the student body believes they can change. That night students of color and their allies gathered on campus to share their testimonies about race-based hatred on campus, and collectively they shouted, “This. Ends. Now.”
Wells, rather than "shutting up", has taken further action with her peers. The president of the college and the student group "A Collective for Change on the Hill" agreed on Thursday to assemble an autonomous task force to research the student-demanded topics. Such demands include administrative changes, such as racial and cultural sensitivity training; a curriculum that encourages a racial awareness and inclusion; and a policy on racial threats and hate crimes.
According to recent enrollment statistics, nearly 3,000 full-time students were enrolled in St. Olaf College in fall 2016; 2,214 of the students were white and 63 were black. Students are saying the school has not done nearly enough to protect minority students.
A national trend?
These events, all happening in the same week, should be a cause for concern. Incidents like these happen every year at universities across the country. These events are not only evidence of the danger that Americans of color face on their own university campuses, but also evidence of the deep racial divides that are very much present in our country today.
One similarity– besides the evident racial prejudice– these three crimes have in common is the anonymity maintained by their perpetrators. Despite the fact that these individuals would like to remain nameless and faceless while speaking hatred, those who fight for equality and racial prejudice will no doubt remain as fearless, visible, and loud as ever.
What do you think of this trend? Do you think the federal government should be involved, as they are at American University? Has something like this happened at your school? Let us know in the comments below.