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Friday, April 3, 2020
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Campus Vandalism

Dear members of the Emerson community:

Last Thursday our community gathered to take a stand against hateful graffiti. I was saddened to learn on Friday of another incident of graffiti in a different campus building.  Staff in the Little Building discovered graffiti on multiple room doors.  While the occupants of each vandalized space are of varied cultural backgrounds, the language included derogatory words that have been used to demean Asians and Asian-Americans, and I understand that this is the second report of the same offensive language in the Little Building. The offensive graffiti was reported to the Emerson College Police Department (ECPD) and immediately removed.

This incident, like the previous one this week, is currently under investigation, and the offender(s) are currently unknown at this time. Anyone with information about who is responsible for these acts should bring such information to ECPD at 617-824-8555.

As I write this, I realize we must be careful not to spotlight every incident of offensive graffiti on our campus. These racist words, unworthy of repeating, cause harm to Asians and Asian-Americans and the broader Emerson community, and I am deeply troubled that this vandalism follows so closely on the heels of anti-Semitic symbols found in another residence hall. Such violation of student space, with apparent disregard for how this language can cause harm, is unacceptable.

Staff from the Office of Housing & Residence Education have reached out and offered support to the students who have been directly affected by this incident. Any students in need of counsel, support, or connection, are encouraged to reach out to the numerous services available at Emerson, including Residence Education staff, Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services, Healing and Advocacy, the Social Justice Center, Student Success, Student Care & Support, and the Campus Life office. 

In addition, Residence Education staff are reaching out to connect with all Little Building residents regarding community standards, vandalism, and bias-motivated incidents. Staff will also be meeting early this week to discuss additional programming. Acts of vandalism, especially those that hatefully target a population, are a significant violation of our Code of Community Standards.

Further, Jim Hoppe, Vice President and Dean of Campus Life; Sylvia Spears, Vice President for Equity and Social Justice; and Michaele Whelan, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Rev. Julie Avis Rogers, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life and Campus Chaplain, will continue to work with campus groups, including members of the Jewish and Asian communities to determine how to engage our community in a response and strong denunciation of this and previously reported graffiti.

Such cowardly acts will not change who we are. Emerson will remain a welcoming place for all, not only in theory but in practice, and we will rise above these incidents, which seek to instill fear, disrupt our community, and challenge our values.

Sincerely,
Lee Pelton

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