Every student living in Royer with a whiteboard was a victim of bias-related vandalism on Monday, January 28th.
At 10 a.m., Resident Assistant Sara Treier woke up to find swastikas, residents’ names, and phallic images drawn on the whiteboards students had hanging from their doors. There were other messages and drawings on other door decorations such as posters and nametags.
“It was written in dry erase marker, which is why I think it was ideally white boards,” said Ashlee Punte, another Resident Assistant in Royer.
In addition to vandalism on the doors of dorm rooms, there was evidence of unauthorized entry into several rooms. As Treier and Punte every piece of graffiti, students would come out of their rooms to inform them of additional messages and drawings found in their dorm. “When we were going around to mark all the doors that had things written on them, people stopped us and said they had things written in their rooms,” Punte said.
The boys’ side of the hallway was less affected than the girls’, considering they had less whiteboards and decorations on their doors.
There is currently an on-going investigation to find those responsible for the sexual and anti-Semitic symbols. Campus Security is currently interviewing witnesses and documenting the incident, a grueling and slow process due to the wide scope of the crime. Each piece of graffiti has been photographed and covered in accordance with Residence Life’s policy.
Meanwhile, Residence Life and Campus Security are both taking measures to make sure the Royer community is safe.
Campus Security has planned for additional foot patrols to watch over the building. This will hopefully discourage any further vandalism.
Additionally, Residence Life had a meeting with all of Royer to have an open discussion and allow people with additional information to come forward. Furthermore, the RAs in Royer have been keeping in close contact with their residents.
“We have been communicating with residents to make sure that they are doing well, talking to anyone who we felt could feel more targeted,” Punte said.
Jon Fuiman, the Vice President of Hillel, spoke for his Jewish classmates. “Unfortunately in this day in age, these things happen. I thought we were over this but there are always people in this world who are ridiculous,” he said, “I don’t think anyone saw this coming… I can only hope that students can respect other students’ property and hopefully we can get this all taken care of.” Fuiman is eager to know what happens to the person or people responsible for the vandalism.
With the investigation still active and further statements yet to be released from campus security, students are left to speculate who could have been responsible for the graffiti.
“I can’t imagine just a random Etown person wandering in and doing it,” Punte said.
Fellow Resident Assistant Alex Chavez agreed. “If I had to guess, I would think a student did it.”
Regardless of whether it was a student or another resident in Elizabethtown, Campus Security urged students to respect the integrity of the ID card door access system. Etown students are advised to not hold the doors for strangers or allow others to “tailgate” as they walk into the building. Furthermore, it is recommended for students to keep their doors locked. This will prevent unauthorized entries in the future.
Etown does not take biased-related crime lightly. According to the Student and Employee Handbooks, the college does not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment.
The email sent out by Campus Security on the matter read, “Our community is committed to maintaining a safe and welcoming learning and working environment for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or gender expression. Verbal or physical, written or electronic expressions, which create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work, learning or living environment will not be tolerated.”
Fuiman does not fault the college for the discriminatory acts. “I don’t think this is a blow on the college, I don’t think anyone saw this coming,” he said.
Students with more information can call Campus Security at 717-361-1000. Reports can also be sent in via ECHotline or the LiveSafe App. The investigation is still live. Any tips should be called in immediately.
Punte assures Royer residents that the vandalism is still the focus of Residence Life and Campus Security. “We’re still working on it, it hasn’t been forgotten,” she said.