The University Police Department is investigating an anti-Muslim remark written in Brown College late Sunday, which was directed at the dorm of two Muslim students living in the residential college.
This writing marks the third of several racist vandalisms on and near Grounds this semester.
The remark, which was written in lead pencil, read “terrorist” with an arrow drawn to point towards the room of several students in Brown College.
Third-year College student Attiya Latif — who lives in the room that was defaced — said her roommate reported the incident after it happened.
“Whoever did it knew where I lived, and they like walked up three flights of stairs in order to write a slur next to the name of myself and my roommate,” Latif said. “Our names are on our door, and that is really scary and sort of frightening.”
Shortly after the incident, Dean of Students Allen Groves sent an email alerting students to the vandalism and condemning the action.
“It is our belief this graffiti was placed at this specific location to target and intimidate the residents who live in this room,” Groves said in the email. “As a community, we categorically reject and condemn this type of hateful message.”
Muslim Students Association President Mariya Tayyab, a fourth-year College student, said she was pleased with the University and other students’ responses.
“By sending out school-wide emails, the University showed that they cared about the well-being of all students, and it lets other students see that acts of hatred are not tolerated,” Tayyab said in an email statement. “Many students and members of the community as well have reached out and been supportive, which … has been reassuring.”
However, Tayyab added the anti-Muslim writing felt personal and hostile.
“It is tough to feel unwelcome in your own school,” Tayyab said. “Students should be able to feel comfortable in the U.Va. community, and hate crimes like these leave them feeling vulnerable.”
The writing in Brown College is the third instance of derogatory remarks written in student populated residences, including racist slurs in the Kent-Dabney dorm association and anti-Semitic writings at GrandMarc — an off-Grounds apartment building.
There is no apparent link between the three incident, Groves said.
“At this time, we are aware of no connection between the Kent-Dabney, GrandMarc and Brown College graffiti/vandalism incidents in terms of the person or persons responsible,” Groves said in an email statement to The Cavalier Daily.
Tayyab said she hopes students will be active in preventing similar incidents in the future.
“It is important to acknowledge that isolated incidents like this make up a larger culture of intolerance,” Tayyab said. “A part of being a community of trust is that we are all open to each other regardless of our backgrounds. As students, we should make sure to report incidents like these whether or not it affects us directly or someone we may not know.”
Karim Ginena, a third-year Darden Ph.D. candidate and outreach secretary for the Islamic Society of Central Virginia, said he would also like to see all members of the community take responsibility and action in eliminating hateful messages.
“It's a collective duty, as a community to stand up to hate and to be able to basically address it and make sure that we are working together in the face of discrimination and hate,” Ginena said. “It’s everyone’s responsibility, not just a single fraction of the community — everyone needs to work together.”
The individual or persons responsible for the racist writings would be held accountable by student organizations, such as University Judiciary Committee, Groves said.
“Any person(s) found to be responsible for an act of vandalism would be referred to the student-run UJC for a hearing and appropriate sanction,” Groves said. “Evidence that a violation of the Standards of Conduct was motivated by bias may result in an increased sanction, pursuant to the UJC’s Constitution.”
The UPD encourages anyone with information regarding the incident to contact the department.
Brianna Hamblin contributed to reporting on this article.