VUPD responds to racist slur on chalkboard in Buttrick


Rachel Friedman, Campus Editor

VUPD responded to a report of a racial slur on a chalkboard in Buttrick Hall Oct. 28. A student reported the incident, according to Dean of Students Mark Bandas.

The written message was a “racial epithet,” and the intent behind the action was not clear, Bandas said. VUPD is asking anyone with information to come forward as security cameras haven’t provided any leads. VUPD will be taking the lead in the investigation but has notified other investigatory bodies including the FBI, he said.

“VUPD notified the FBI to determine if the incident is possibly part of a pattern of incidents that have occurred on other university campuses,” Bandas said.

This incident follows other recent racially-motivated events, including those at North Carolina State University and Duke University earlier this week. Further, earlier this year some Vanderbilt students received an anonymous racist email. The frequency of such crimes has allowed them to become somewhat normalized, Multicultural Leadership Council President Jacob Pierce said.

“I was saddened but unsurprised that this happened. This past week has been filled with news stories about the sheer amounts of violence and hate that exists in this country,” he said. “After this email, I get the sense that students are unfortunately used to things like this happening on campus, which deeply saddens me. Every student, regardless, of their racial or religious identity, deserves to attend a school where they feel valued, loved, and safe.”

The Dean of Students Office sent an email to the Vanderbilt community Nov. 1 about the incident. The lag between his office’s involvement and VUPD’s response to the report was due to administrative delay, he said.

“Vanderbilt does not tolerate language or actions that are racist and intended to create fear and division within our community. We understand this incident has occurred shortly after a number of troubling events both in our nation and in our community, and we will be holding further town halls and community conversations around inclusion and campus safety,” the email stated.

Moving forward, the campus community needs to work together to prevent such occurrences, Pierce said.

“I would like to see the student body activate the same way it did after the Rand Cookies were changed earlier this year,” Pierce said. “If that kind of energy was applied to incidents like these, I think it would send a powerful message about how little tolerance this school has for racism and hate on campus.”