Students and administrators responded with disgust and surprise Wednesday following a report that several students entered the suite of an anti-war activist March 27 and left a message threatening Muslims on her door.
Some students said they were surprised Yale administrators had not made a public statement about the alleged incident.
“It is an incredibly disturbing affront to all Yale students, not to mention Yale’s Muslim community,” said Sumeyya Ashraf ’04, president of the Muslim Students’ Association. “Not only are students furious over the threat to freedom of expression this occurrence poses, but the Muslims on this campus feel physically threatened and vulnerable to attack.”
On March 27 around midnight, a group of several male students brandishing a wooden plank entered the suite of Katherine Lo ’05, wrote a hateful message on her whiteboard and left without confrontation, Lo said. She said after several failed attempts to enter her bedroom, they wrote an inflammatory message on her whiteboard and left without incident.
Lo said the message contained a violent call for the killing of Iraqis and Muslims.
The incident occurred a day after Lo hung an American flag upside-down from her bedroom window to protest the war in Iraq, she said. In coping with the situation, Lo said University officials and friends have been very supportive.
“What’s been most helpful is to see the rapid response of friends,” she said. “They’ve really been concerned about my safety.”
Calhoun Master William Sledge sent an e-mail informing students about the incident but said he did not expect such violent incidents to recur, Calhoun Dean Stephen Lassonde said.
“An event like this seems impulsive,” Lassonde said. “It’s not as though there are people going around to everyone. It’s not like they [the intruders] have targets.”
But some students questioned the lack of awareness and discussion regarding the incident and said they were troubled that the University did not make a statement to all Yale students about the alleged break-in.
“This is something that needs to be talked about. This is unacceptable,” Ashraf said.
“I feel this incident is strong enough to warrant some statement by the administration,” Laura Hess ’06 said. “I’d like to see Levin make a statement condemning it.”
Hess is organizing a response to the incident that involves about 30 to 35 students hanging flags upside-down from their dorm rooms. She said she initiated her plan after she e-mailed various friends and Dwight Hall organizations about her idea. Not in Our House — an anti-war demonstration group — may take her plan to a national level, Hess said.
She said the flags will be hung around Yale today.
“The purpose is to show that free speech cannot be shut down with violent intimidation,” she said.
Hess also said that last evening, a flag that she hung upside-down from her suite was later rotated to hang in its normal position.
“We’re keeping our doors locked now,” she said.