What is the price of tolerance?

In this case, it’ll cost the students of Campion Hall a fairly hefty chunk of change. But this single act of hatred scrawled across the walls of Campion will hit more than just the pockets of the Fairfield community. For many, it means a loss of dignity and the feeling of a divided community.

Racist, sexually offensive and anti-Semitic graffiti was tagged on the second floor walls and the second floor south stairwell in Campion Hall on Jan 14, according to Elissa Pelland, Campion’s area coordinator.

The graffiti wasn’t found until 8:30 a.m. Tuesday when Pelland was walking down the stairs. Several students also reported seeing the graffiti on their way to morning classes.

“It was shocking to see, and a lot of students who I have talked with said they were offended by it,” said Pelland.

On Wednesday night, Campion RAs held meetings with their residents to discuss the issue and the outcome. The entire building is currently being punished for the acts of an unknown individual or individuals.

Public Safety officers are now going to patrol the dorm four nights per week, at a cost to the residents of about $40/hour per officer, according to Campion resident Kristen Prestano ’11.

To move forward, the community as a whole must respond to this incident. According to Pelland, the students are coming together to find ways to make the community stronger.

“We can only do that if people are willing to confront those who are being disrespectful and are going against the beliefs, values and mission of our community,” said Pelland.

“People are making an issue about the money, but it’s really the principle of the incident that is the worst part about all of this,” said Prestano. “I was appalled.”

Residents of Campion Hall have already had several meetings after graffiti of sexual nature appeared in the building during the first semester, said Prestano.

But in this case, the act was more than immature antics; with the racially offensive and anti-Semitic connotations, the graffiti became a hate crime and is being treated as such.

“The first meetings were just about people drawing penises on the walls,” said Campion resident Liz Maccarone ’11. “But this was really rude and offensive.”

As an immediate response, Public Safety officers and Campion RAs were alerted, and the graffiti was covered, according to Pelland.

“One of the RAs for the building hung paper over it and put up inspirational quotations from people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank to show that we do not believe or tolerate such ignorance,” said Pelland.

The University responded to the incident by issuing an official statement written by Mark Reed, vice president for administrative services and student affairs, and Tom Pellegrino, associate vice president and dean of students.

In the announcement, the act was denounced as “thoughtless, cowardly and juvenile” and “stemming from ignorance.”

The statement encouraged all members of the Fairfield community to come forward and “take an active role in supporting, encouraging and promoting efforts to disavow this behavior” as a way to grow from the issue, prevent intolerance from spreading, and prevent another incident from occurring.

Larri Mazon, director of Multicultural Relations, agreed that the only way to prevent such incidents is to actively work against them.

The question must be raised as to how can we show that behavior and actions such as these will not be tolerated by our community.

“We need a unified voice that clearly says this is not accepted,” said Mazon.

Just as this is not the first instance of graffiti in Campion, it also is not the first time offensive content has been displayed on residence hall walls. In 2005, for example, swastikas appeared in Dolan Hall.

“It’s despicable,” said Mazon, “but it’s foolish to think everyone in a community thinks the same way. Things like this are to be expected, but they should never be accepted,” he said.

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