RICHMOND, Va. — University of Virginia officials are considering making hate speech a violation of the campus honor code after racist messages were scrawled on doors and shouted from passing cars.
Charlottesville and university police are investigating five racial incidents, the first reported Aug. 20, university spokeswoman Carol Wood said Monday. Police had not charged anyone in the incidents.
“The writer of the spiteful words and the passing motorist who shouts an insult have no place in a community built on mutual trust and respect,” University President John Casteen III wrote in an e-mail to students and staff.
More than 250 students attended a meeting Saturday about the racist messages.
“For the new students, this is a very rude awakening to societal problems that are everywhere, including the University of Virginia,” said Noah Sullivan, a student organizer of the meeting. “For older students, this is nothing new.”
Phil Jackson said he found a racist message written on a dry-erase board outside his campus dorm room early Saturday.
“I didn’t think it was something that would happen,” he said. “I don’t think anyone should ever really get used to the disappointment or the frustration of individuals who don’t embrace diversity.”
Integrated in 1955, the University of Virginia has combated a lingering reputation as a white, Southern stronghold. About 10 percent of the school’s roughly 13,000 undergraduates are black.
Incidents over the past few years have fanned the flames, including a 2002 Halloween party at which two students dressed as black women and 2003 attacks on a biracial student council hopeful and a Peruvian business student.
Administrators responded with a campus diversity committee. Last fall, the committee recommended the creation of an officer of diversity and equity; an appointment is expected by next month.
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