Police at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville have ruled out any academic origin for the racist message left in a classroom Nov. 30.
Students arriving for a class in Peck Hall discovered a message referring to the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, which ruled that “persons of African descent” were not citizens or considered to be people.
SIUE officials have determined that the message was not part of any classroom instruction. The classroom was scheduled with philosophy classes, according to a message sent by SIUE officials to the student body.
SIUE police and leaders of the College of Arts & Sciences have interviewed all the faculty members with classes scheduled preceding the message’s discovery, and determined it was not written by any of them and was not part of any classroom instruction, according to the statement.
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“We denounce racism and bigotry, and strongly encourage all members of our community to do the same and to act according to the university’s values of inclusion, wisdom, citizenship, integrity and excellence,” the university statement read. “We remain committed to maintaining a safe, secure and inclusive campus environment for all students, faculty and staff.”
Meanwhile, the faculty of the philosophy department issued their own statement about the incident. It denounced the message not only as racist, but as “intellectually dishonest,” referring to it as white supremacist propaganda.
“The occurrence of incidents such as this — and it is only one among many on campus of which we are aware — are deeply saddening to us, and they make us deeply angry,” the philosophy statement read. “We want to make this clear so that you know that we take this incident very seriously, and we hope that you do as well.”
Police continue to investigate the incident, which is another in a series of hate-related incidents on the campus that have led to speculation that SIUE is being targeted by a white supremacist group.
There have been a series of racially-charged incidents at SIUE in the past year or two, including two instances of notes with racial slurs left on residence hall doors, a Confederate flag painted on the boulder in the middle of the quad, and earlier reports of racial taunts and slurs shouted at students of color during the tumult of the 2016 election.
In September, the racial slur left on a door spurred the Door Project, a community art project in which students wrote peaceful and affirming messages on a door propped up in the quad. A prior incident involved a racist note left on a student’s door, which led to a felony conviction for the perpetrator. A white pride organization also plastered flyers over posters announcing a diversity program in October.
The philosophy department’s statement also reminded students that if they ever encounter “racist, sexist, heterosexist or otherwise hateful content” on campus, it is imperative that it is reported, and that the professors are there to listen and required to report the incidents.