Hate crime strikes Xavier walls

By Catharine Hernson
February 27, 2003

Antonio Masone

For the first time in at least three years, Cabrini College was the site of a hate crime, as the electronic records for such actions only go back to January 2000. The words “white power” and “niga” were written on the wall alongside a swastika in Xavier Hall on Feb. 7.

In a possibly related incident the word “fag” was written on a student’s door in black magic marker. Both incidents occurred in the lower south wing of Xavier.

“In one word what happened was ‘disgusting,'” Robin Cook, freshman Xavier Hall resident, said. “I know that personally, it would not affect me as much as some other students, but I can’t believe that in the environment that we live in people could have that much disregard for other people. There is just no excuse.”

The general feeling towards the incident around campus has been much the same, all the way up to the administration.

“I feel very badly to know that someone in our community would have done this,” Dr. Richard Neville, vice president of Student Development, said. “If that’s the way they are thinking I feel badly for them, and I would like to try and educate them on the sense of acceptance and respect that Cabrini is built on. It’s what we’re all about. It’s just a shredding of our community. It’s even worse that we don’t yet know who it is.”

Following the incident, Mike Quickel, resident director of Xavier, called an emergency hall meeting with his building to discuss the incidents of the night. The meeting let residents know how upset the community was about the lack of consideration for the core values of the college. Also the meeting went over the behavior of the hall’s residents in general.

On Feb. 7, there were multiple infractions with underage drinking, visitation violations, smoking in the building, harassment and disrespecting a college official. Two guests had been signed into the building under a resident of the hall using a false name. As a consequence for the behavioral issues, visitation was taken away from the hall indefinitely. Since then visitation was reinstated.

Public Safety, who took statements, questioned students who were found in the area of the vandalism. The statements were then turned over to Tom DeMarco, Residence Life’s judicial officer, who took statements from the entire first floor.

According to Charlie Shafner, director of Public Safety, the sanctions the school can use against the perpetrators can vary depending on the severity of the crime. The punishment could be as light as a warning all the way to expulsion from the college all together. Residence Life will have the final say in what is going to happen with the investigation, right down to the penalty.

“The incident seems to me to be perpetrated by a small group of students, who’s judgment may have been clouded by alcohol possibly, and I would hope that if they were in their right state of mind that this would never have happened,” Neville said. “The bad effect is that it is such a violation of the standards and values that we profess and, much less, live by, that it just shreds the fabric of our living. Just to think something like this could happen here is abhorrent.”

The concern has poured out around campus. Some students are going to Shirley Dixon, coordinator of the Office of Diversity Initiatives, others have written to President Antoinette Iadarola. The president was not in the area at the time of the incident and responded with a heart-felt letter e-mailed to the entire campus community. This type of act does not just hurt one part of the population, it affects the whole community.

“When it first happened I was a little ticked off about it. I think a lot of people on campus don’t realize that it is not [Quickel’s] fault. But that it is just the stupidity of the students who did it, they don’t realize that it is not just a crime against blacks; that is a crime all over the nation,” Joneeta Byrd, freshman Xavier resident, said. “It’s against all types of religions. The swastika is a universal hate symbol and I just think that the people in Xavier, whether they were drunk or not, should be responsible for their actions.”

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Catharine Hernson

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