Racist graffiti unsettles campus community Police investigating hate crime

by Leslie Layton

Racist, homophobic and sexist graffiti was used to deface faculty bulletin boards, photographs and office doors in Butte Hall during the April 6-7 weekend, according to police and faculty.

The Chico State University Police Department (UPD) released a brief statement that says it’s investigating the graffiti incident as a hate crime and “seeking to identify suspects.” UPD estimated the damage and clean-up cost at $400.

Police were contacted Sunday morning and the graffiti that had defaced the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice was promptly removed.

Two forums are now being organized at Chico State around issues of racism and student safety, and Tim Sistrunk, president of the Chico chapter of the California Faculty Association, says the union is assuming a role and wants to collaborate with police on behalf of teaching staff.

“I formally request that CFA representatives be included in every effort that is being made to respond to this sordid event,” Sistrunk said in a letter emailed to the campus community. “We would like to see the full police report of the crimes as soon as possible. We would like to know confidentially who specifically was impacted so that we can plan how to support them.”

University spokesperson Ashley Gebb said a forum in response to the event will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, April 15, in Bell Memorial Union 210. The forum will be facilitated by Tray Robinson from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

The university will also host a safety summit at 2 p.m. Friday, April 19, in Colusa Hall in response to student concerns over safety.

Gebb said a records search showed the graffiti incident marks the first reported hate crime on campus since at least 2009.

“We have to demonstrate that this is not acceptable,” union President Sistrunk said.

ChicoSol’s story, “To people of color, Chico seems less friendly, more hostile,” describes student concerns over safety and the recent incident of a stay-away order issued to a man who was reported to be asking unusual questions in Meriam Library.

Editor’s note: CSUC said on April 11 that it was able to search police reports only as far back as 2009; the search turned up no other report of a hate crime. The second to the last paragraph has been corrected to reflect that.

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