HMC, Scripps Report Incidents of Vandalism

On Nov. 11, two locations at Scripps College and four locations Harvey Mudd College were found to have been defaced with graffiti referencing Donald Trump’s campaign, Stan Skipworth, Director of Campus Safety, wrote in an email to TSL. The vandalisms were all made using a green wax pencil. 

According to Sneha Deo SC ’17, President of Scripps Associated Students (SAS), graffiti was found on the side of Scripps' Humanities Building, and a rock was thrown through the window of an office.

The graffiti at both schools contained references to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” and Pepe, a symbol that “conveys white supremacy, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant attitudes, and other ideas that are based in hate,” Scripps President Lara Tiedens wrote in an email to the Scripps student body the day after the incident.

The messages on the Humanities Building were removed by Facilities and Maintenance crews early in the morning of Nov. 11, said Deo.

In an email to TSL, Tiedens wrote that at the other location, “students were quick to post a butcher paper sign over the offending graffiti until Facilities was able to remove it.”

The perpetrator was caught on security cameras at HMC, and Campus Security is now looking for that person, wrote Skipworth.

There was also an incident of verbal abuse three days later, on Nov. 14. Deo said that a person was reported to be “verbally abusive” to a student at the Motley Coffeehouse, possibly referencing language similar to what had been used in the election. Campus Safety later found that this person was an employee of one of the other Claremont Colleges, and that person was banned from the Scripps campus, Skipworth wrote.

In response to the vandalism, members of SAS held extra open office hours to ensure that information would be made available, said Deo. She said that during their last meeting, SAS discussed “ways in which we can more tangibly advocate for students with regards to what’s happened in light of the election.”

With specific regards to the incident of verbal abuse, the Claremont Police Department was called to support Campus Safety and take the lead informal investigations of the case, wrote Skipworth.

According to Skipworth, after these events occurred, Campus Safety increased their on-campus presence. Deo expressed the concern that the increased visibility of Campus Safety may not “facilitate the best residential environment." She said that the concern was ensuring that students were safe and well-served while not inducing the violence that sometimes accompanies increased policing.

Regarding the incident at the Motley, Deo said that although it could have been somewhat related to the election, it was not motivated by someone speaking in support of Donald Trump.

Skipworth wrote that in the wake of an emotional election, Campus Safety remained committed to ensuring the safety of faculty and students and fostering a community where differing opinions and ideas can be shared openly and respectfully.

In addition to increased presence of Campus Safety, Scripps' administration has “encouraged students to report any incidents or threats to physical safety to the Dean of Students staff or Campus Safety, and we have emphasized the range of Scripps and 5C resources available to ensure students’ mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing” wrote Tiedens.

Deo sent an email to the Scripps student body expressing concern that freedom of expression had been used in a threatening and hateful way. "It is our joint responsibility to foster an environment that actively resists violence and oppression," she said.

In an email to TSL, Deo wrote, “In residential and extracurricular spaces, it means that we need to be more careful about individual’s boundaries; if we are to have challenging dialogue on campus, we must also be intentional about how we make non-academic spaces fit the needs of all students.”

According to the New York Times, incidents of violence against marginalized groups have increased in the wake of the election.

“There is no escaping the fact that the highly charged post-election environment has led to similar incidents not only on college campuses, but in many public and private spaces throughout our communities," Tiedens wrote.

In her email to the student body, Tiedens emphasized the continued need for love and support to heal the community in the wake of these events.

“I am counting on each of you to model the values of equity, inclusion, and justice here at Scripps and elsewhere as we move forward in unity," she wrote.