Connecticut College Closed Monday to Address Recent Hate Messages

NBC Connecticut, March 30, 2015

Connecticut College is closed Monday as administrators lead a college-wide conversation after some concerns about racism and hate-related issues on campus.

The action comes a day after racially charged graffiti was found in the bathrooms on the first floor of the Crozier-Williams building at the New London college. Photos shared with NBC Connecticut show writing on a bathroom wall that says “No” followed by the “N” word plural. The graffitti has been removed and administrators are investigating, trying to find the person(s) responsible.

That was after another controversy on campus that led at least 500 people to sign a petition on change.org calling for Connecticut College president Katherine Bergeron to condemn philosophy professor Andrew Pessin’s Facebook post stating in part that Gaza is like a pitbull kept in a cage “because of its repeated efforts to destroy Israel and Jews.”

“By now, there have been many opinions expressed about the original Facebook post, as well as about subsequent comments on Yik Yak and elsewhere. But one thing has become extremely clear: the level of harm that incendiary language can have on a community. The post caused an outpouring of anger and pain among many different groups of students, faculty, and staff. The groundswell of reaction makes it clear that the issue goes far beyond the effects of a single post. It is about who we are as a community,” Bergeron wrote in a letter to the students on Sunday. “Earlier today, as I was writing this letter, I learned of another incident of racist graffiti in the restrooms of Crozier-Williams. We must take action immediately to expose and eradicate this ignorance and hatred. I have decided to cancel tomorrow’s classes to ensure these events receive the proper attention.”

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Bergeron plans to talk to the students about goals to strengthen the college community as the campus comes together to have further dialogue about improving school climate. There will be a campus-wide meeting on Monday night. She is also opening her door on Tuesday for anyone who wants to speak with her about the issues.

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