Authorities investigate ‘reprehensible’ message posted on bathroom wall

Friday, April 13, 2018

DePauw University and Greencastle authorities are investigating a racial slur written on the bathroom wall in a university-owned building earlier this week.

Written in black sharpie on a bathroom wall at the Inn at DePauw, 2 W. Seminary St., the hateful, racially-charged message was ostensibly signed by someone purportedly representing the KKK.

Authorities believe the message was left about 11 p.m. Wednesday. DePauw administrators, however, were not made aware of it until about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Ken Owen, special adviser to DPU President Mark McCoy, told the Banner Graphic Friday.

“It’s a reprehensible act,” Owen said, noting the incident “sent shock waves through the (DePauw) community.”

“What a sophomoric way to communicate to begin with,” Owen added. “To put up something that hateful, something designed to divide.

“This is really unfortunate,” he continued, adding that DePauw has made great strides in diversifying the campus but the latest incident “is really a shot in the solar plexus.”

“I want to stress that at DePauw we’re very proud of our diversity,” Owen said. “Our diversity number is now 30 percent with 20 percent of students of color.”

The DePauw spokesman called it “troubling” that someone chose to express himself in such a hateful manner, stressing that officials believe there is just one perpetrator and the incident “is not reflective of the community.”

Authorities have been screening security camera footage, looking for whoever may have been coming and going at the inn at the time of the incident.

“We hope we can bring some closure to this,” Owen said, noting that if a perpetrator can be identified, DePauw is determined to have him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Owen said the university is “very appreciative of the city’s help on this.”

DePauw is also offering safe rides to students in the aftermath of the incident, which intensified when a picture of the message was posted on social media.

“We’re going above and beyond in the wake of this thing,” Owen added.

Meanwhile, DePauw President Mark McCoy released a statement to all students and staff about the incident and met with concerned students.

“Around 3:30 p.m. today (Thursday), we were notified that a racist and threatening, hateful slur was written on a restroom door at the DePauw Inn,” noted the statement signed by McCoy and Vice President for Student Academic Life Alan Hill.

“Public Safety began investigating this incident as soon as it was made known to us and we are working at this moment to gather all information we can. If the perpetrator is found, we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law,” the statement continued.

“Our core values at DePauw cannot be stated often enough, and they include embracing diversity and respecting each other.

“As the Inn is a public space, we have reached out to the mayor and the chief of police and have been working with public safety since being informed. We will not tolerate hateful, racist slurs that demean or target anyone. Hate is not welcome here.”

McCoy and Hill said “if anyone has information about this incident, please contact Public Safety immediately.”

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  • Pearl-clutchers.

    Someone wrote something inappropriate on a bathroom wall (this has never happened before!) so we must spend inordinate amounts of time and resources to find those responsible for this heinous act.

    Round up the usual suspects.

    Most of these incidents are caused by the very people that are supposedly targeted. "Hate crimes" where language is the weapon are often perpetrated by minority offenders.

    By making such a production of this "incident", DePauw University (and by extension Greencastle) is actually feeding the fire by giving this time and attention. Everyone would be better served by simply looking into the issue as a vandalism/defacement problem, and not making such a big deal about it.

    Intolerance will not be tolerated.

    It seems that the idea behind the crime is more concerning than the actual crime itself. Is it the differing opinion that bothers DePauw? Is it the idea that someone thinks contrary to DePauw's worldview that calls for such an investigation. Perhaps a university that actually allows for diversity of thought is a bridge too far. (Since the Banner Graphic chose not to divulge the actual language, and the article is full of inflammatory but meaningless adjectives designed to elicit an emotional response as compared to facts, we are left to our own musings as to the actual content of the offending message.)

    But it is comforting to know that DePauw is so concerned about their diversity that they need to constantly remind us of it, otherwise we might wonder what kind of institution would be so color-blind as to not care about diversity and just treat people as people and not as a statistic or a box to be checked.

    -- Posted by AverageWhiteGuy on Mon, Apr 16, 2018, at 1:12 PM
  • Average white guy - I want to live in a community where the color of my skin (or my ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender) does not determine whether I should live or die......that is the "world view" we should embrace.

    -- Posted by Rockypenguin on Mon, Apr 16, 2018, at 5:04 PM
  • ^^

    A simple google search will let you read what was written in the wall. It was a death threat against all members of a particular racial group, which should never be tolerated. As far as your implication that this could have been perpetrated by a minority member, I’d invite you to check the membership rolls of the KKK and see how many members are African-American.

    -- Posted by erjvh on Mon, Apr 16, 2018, at 7:03 PM
  • I saw the photo. It's outrageous and I do not condone it. GC has long been integrated and there has always been an embracement of the African-American community and its contributions.

    Oh, I know. From time to time, there have been incidents which do not represent the general population. Take a look at GHS Minaret yearbooks from the '50's, '60's & '70's and you will see what I mean.

    AWG brings up a good point. It could be kids. There was a disturbed young man a few years ago in GC who was responsible for reprehensible graffiti. DPU is an easy target - easy to get the PC crowd riled.

    -- Posted by sassylass on Tue, Apr 17, 2018, at 9:08 AM
  • ERJVH - I shouldn't have to search for it. It was relevant to the story and should have been included. But as the BG refused to print it, I did search it. I am going to say it was either 1) stupid kid or 2) written by a member of the "offended" minority.

    You can find a list of similar instances here: http://www.fakehatecrimes.org/

    Except for being scapegoated and used as a bogeyman by many, the KKK is largely irrelevant.

    -- Posted by AverageWhiteGuy on Tue, Apr 17, 2018, at 9:40 AM
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