Police are investigating the early Tuesday morning appearance of racially charged graffiti at Yale and two nearby private schools.
The words “White Guilt” were spray-painted in white and black letters beneath Dwight Hall’s stained-glass window and were clearly visible from the Library Walk before being removed by Yale maintenance workers later on Tuesday. The words also appeared on buildings at the Foote School in New Haven and Hamden Country Day School, according to reports by television station WTNH.
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The New Haven Police Department could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
It is unlikely the vandals are Yale students, Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said in an interview Tuesday evening.
“People who live here and go to school here at Yale aren’t going to be driving way out to Hamden to do that,” Gentry said. “I tend to believe that Yale students aren’t like that anyway. I think the threat of someone getting caught doing that as a Yale student is so severe that they have to think twice about doing something so stupid.”
At 12:30 p.m. and again around 6 o’clock Tuesday evening television trucks parked on High Street near Dwight Hall.
Dwight Hall is home to a non-profit umbrella organization that encompasses over 60 student groups acting to promote community service both locally and abroad.
“This was a despicable act of bigotry and ignorance,” Dwight Hall Director Alex Knopp said. The act only serves to motivate Dwight Hall and its affiliate organizations, he said. “Our response is to increase our efforts to eliminate this kind of bigotry and bullying.”
The vandalism comes almost one year after graffiti was found on the University Theater and a wall near the York Street gate of Pierson College. That graffiti included a racial epithet and a homophobic slur and incited a vociferous response on campus. The Dean’s Office later organized a series of panels on hate to address the issue.
Thomas Meyer, a member of the Coalition for Campus Unity, said the outpouring of student outrage after the graffiti appeared last year was more important than anything else.
“I think the strongest, most powerful reaction came from the students because it is very much from the people who comprise the school,” he said.
Knopp and Christopher Lewine ’09, the Dwight Hall Student Executive Committee public relations coordinator, rejected the premise of the graffiti’s message. Dwight Hall is a diverse organization, and this year’s student executive board includes members of many races, Lewine said.
“Dwight Hall is proud of its diversity, and I believe that the composition of our members speaks for itself,” Lewine wrote in an e-mail.
Some students interviewed said racially charged vandalism of this sort should not be unexpected in New Haven, where there is such a glaring divide between the University and the city.
“I’m not surprised,” Jocelyn Traina ’10 said, “though I don’t think this graffiti is an effective means of communication because it’s attacking the wrong people.”
Meyer said no one could possibly agree with the message scrawled on Dwight Hall.
“I don’t think anybody believes it,” he said. “Those two words do not capture what Dwight Hall is about.”