Subversive graffiti found on campus

Five separate locations were spray-painted with offensive comments between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2

Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane said the graffiti found on campus is representative of a destructive divide within the student body.
Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane said the graffiti found on campus is representative of a destructive divide within the student body.

Queen’s campus received an unwelcome paint job last week as five cases of offensive graffiti were reported to campus security on Oct. 31 and Nov. 2.

The first incident was reported at 5:38 a.m. On Oct. 31 on the wall of Beamish-Munro Hall, beside the Tea Room; the words “Queen’s Spirit: Bigotry, Queen’s Tradition: Denial” were spray painted on the wall.

This was followed by two reports made at 9:55 a.m. that morning. Graffiti was found outside Mackintosh-Corry Hall, which said “kill the cracker in yur head.” The second was of white paint poured over the Queen’s University sign on the corner of Union Street and University Avenue. The phrase “expect resistance” was written on the ground in red paint.

At 2 p.m., “expect resistance” was found spray-painted on the front door of the ASUS CORE.

As a result of the graffiti, the CORE was closed from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.

The last reported graffiti was found on Nov. 2 at BioSciences Complex, which read “McQueen’s Colonial U.”

“What we’ve done is taken pictures and made a report to Kingston police and increased foot patrol around campus. We’re taking this matter very seriously,” said David Patterson, director of Campus Security.

Patterson said due to a lack of evidence it will be hard to find the perpetrators.

“At this point, there’s very few leads,” he said. “We don’t have any information as to if there is only one person involved.”

Patterson said Physical Plant Services had cleaned up all defaced property by the end of the weekend.

Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane said he noticed a common trend between all of the instances of graffiti.

“They all address the question of racial tolerance or intolerance at Queen’s,” he said.

Deane said the university setting is vulnerable to acts of vandalism.

“Universities are controversial places; they’re often very passionate places because of a great range of diametrically opposed opinions,” he said. “Sometimes people who are involved in some kind of contentious debate feel the need to express their opinion and they do it this way.”

Deane said it’s unclear as to what disciplinary action will be taken by the University in response to the acts, until the vandals are discovered.

“It depends who they are,” he said. “If these are students, it would be both legal and student disciplinary context in which they would be dealt with. If those who did them are not Queen’s students than it’s simply just a legal matter and it would be left in the hands of the police.”

Deane said the graffiti was a reaction on campus racial tensions.

“This has been a difficult fall for the University and the community in the sense that there have been quite a number of racially motivated instances of racial intolerance and I think the University community is very finely attuned, very sensitive to these kinds of acts.”

Deane said the graffiti should not be viewed as a direct response to the Facebook comment made by ASUS President Jacob Mantle.

“Regardless of whether people take a very critical view of Jacob and his comments, or whether they do not. I think the issue is no solution to this problem, which is a deep seeded problem, not only at Queen’s but in our whole society,” he said. “There’s no way that it’s going to be moved around to a resolution, unless people actually make the efforts to have informed discussion amongst themselves about that. I think they have to move away from expressing that, either by expressing that through spray painting on a wall, name calling or personal attacks towards an understanding of the different perspectives which are at work here.”

Deane said the acts are indicative of a divided campus.

“I think that in dealing with the vandalism, graffiti is distressing, but the most important thing here is that at the moment, there is a very destructive divide evident within the student body. I think that’s the most worrying thing about it. I think that if those kinds of divisions do issue in illegal behaviour of one kind or another, it’s a sign certainly of the severity with which these issues are being felt by people.”

Deane said positive action in response to the acts can only be made through student dialogue.

“I certainly encourage the students to continue to debate these issues. I think they’re very important,” he said. “I think that it’s very important for everyone to take the trouble to work out what the other perspective is. It is important not to move immediately to moralistic judgements, but to in fact, try to understand what the other perspective is. It is through that kind of dialogue that you can move that process along. There really is no other substitute.”

AMS President Talia Radcliffe said in light of Thursday night’s heated AMS assembly meeting, the AMS plans to proceed with caution in its response to the acts of vandalism.

“I think we’re going to be very careful with any steps that we take in terms of like moderated forums. Obviously, we saw at Assembly a very heated dialogue—albeit very open and very honest, but I think that the general feedback that I got was that it was a bit of a scary atmosphere. In terms of moderating any type of open dialogue or open structured forum, I wouldn’t say that we’d be hesitant but we would be cautious to move forward on that.”

Radcliffe said the executive will work to follow through with its anti-oppression mandate.

“That was one of our points on our campaign last year. This is exactly what we meant by that. We meant that we would be taking proactive measures to try to eliminate oppression on this campus. Are we anywhere close to that? Not yet. There’s alot of strides that still have to be made yet. We’re doing what we can in a variety of different ways. This is just one of the more public ways that this has manifested itself.”

ASUS President Jacob Mantle said he doesn’t feel as though the graffiti was a direct attack against him.

“I think that any act of vandalism hurts the entire community,” he said. “It affects everyone; it’s not just one person.”

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