Racial bias-related incident sparks email to students

On Thursday, Sept. 17 , an offensive racial slur was written on a whiteboard outside a room in Seneca Hall that later sparked a mass email from the Department of Residence Life and Housing.

Although the incident is still under investigation and the perpetrator has yet to be identified, an email was sent to the entire on-campus residential community on Sept. 23 from Mary Craw, a secretary from the Department of Residence Life and Housing, in response to the incident.
“It was a single incident that occurred that we wanted to bring it to the resident life student’s attention and reiterate that this behavior is not tolerated,” said Richard Kolenda, assistant vice president for Residence Life and Housing.

In the email, it was stated, “It has been reported that offensive bias-related language has been written on white boards in our residence halls. This behavior is detrimental to our community and will not be tolerated.”

According to John Rossi, University Police chief, once the report was made a patrol officer immediately responded to the scene and a police report was made. The next day, the case was turned over to the University Police investigator who talked to several people on the floor it occurred on to see if anyone might have witnessed the act occur.

At this point, the case is still open and University Police hopes more information will develop.

“We increased patrols in the buildings and try our best to deter it,” Rossi said.

Depending on the intention of the perpetrator, the person will be held accountable for their actions and go through Oswego State’s judicial system and have the potential to face criminal charges.

“We will work in conjunction with University Police to see if we can locate the perpetrator and continue to investigate,” Kolenda said. “Hope that someone, if we didn’t see who it was, that someone would eventually come forward. We do put notices out and in some instances have a section meeting or a floor meeting depending upon the situation.”

According to the 2015-2016 Resident Student Handbook, this incident is a violation and is categorized as disruptive behavior specifically an act of prejudice or bias targeted towards a person or group.

“The college takes these acts very, very seriously,” Rossi said. “We are tolerant of all students who are here and everyone else should be as well. We value diversity of our students and we want to make sure that everyone feels safe on our campus.”

According to Kolenda, these types of incidents do not occur often. However, the Department of Residence Life and Housing has stressed any single instance of bias-related incidents such as these are completely unacceptable.

“We try to create a safe, secure and educational experience for everybody,” Kolenda said. “Everyone should be able to live their lives, study, work hard and reach their goals at this institution in a safe and secure environment we try to provide. Every time an incident like this happens it shakes the community somewhat and what we need to do is make sure we provide a safe and secure community. That is what we will do when we find the perpetrators of this.”