Statement from GW President Steven Knapp Regarding Discovery of Racial Epithet on Poster

November 02, 2007

We have received a report of an instance in which a racial epithet was written on a poster attached to the residence hall door of an African-American student.

As I have said repeatedly over the past few weeks: the posting of symbols of hatred anywhere on our campus is unacceptable no matter who is responsible and no matter what the motives may be. Whether intended as hate crimes or pranks, such acts are utterly incompatible with the spirit of mutual respect that is essential to the life of our university.

As you know, over the past week unknown individuals have posted swastikas - acts that, like this one, have all the earmarks of hate crimes directed against members of our community. In this particular case, the student reported the incident to a member of the administration who encouraged the filing of a police report even though the student did not wish to make the incident public. The police report was filed October 30, and an investigation is underway. The university has reached out to the victim, offering counseling and other services, and has continued to respect the student's request for privacy.

It may never be known whether this incident constitutes an isolated case, a copycat crime, or part of a larger malicious campaign to cause fear, pain, and confusion in our community. Under the best scenario, the culprits in such cases are caught and face the appropriate penalties for their crimes. I sincerely hope that those responsible are apprehended, and we will do everything within our power to make that happen.

Despite the distress they cause, these trying episodes also can serve to bring communities together in solidarity against hatred. And I can say with pride and appreciation that this is exactly what is happening at GW.

Tonight, I attended the Sabbath service and meal and spoke with students at GW Hillel. On Tuesday evening, our students will gather for a town hall meeting to address several recent events - now including this hateful act. I look forward to attending, being part of the conversation, and reassuring all our students that we stand for respect, diversity, and inclusiveness.

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