The Boston University Police Department is in the midst of an investigation after a student reported someone had written a racist slur on a whiteboard on their door Monday morning.
The slur, which was discovered Monday, the morning after the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII, was followed by lewd comments about the Eagles and President Trump scrawled over a note that read “GO BIRDS.”
“This is an attack on our residents and community, and is antithetical to who we are as a larger
community and to the basic respect for human beings that we, personally, hold,” Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said in an email to the residents of the dorm at 33 Harry Agganis Way. “This is unacceptable and we are better than that.”
While the investigation is still underway, Elmore said the BUPD believes it has identified the person responsible for writing the slur.
BU Spokesman Colin Riley said university officials hope to update students on the status of the investigation in the coming days.
As for the consequences the culprit will face, Elmore said, there will be formal, university-enforced consequences, but perhaps more significant are the social and moral consequences the culprit will endure from their peers.
“There are a lot of ways you can hold people accountable, and I think the sanctioning, or the lack of sanctioning, among peers is probably one of the more powerful ways,” Elmore said. “Whoever this person is, they have friends, they interact with people, and I hope that the people they interact with are also holding their friend or their peer accountable.”
In the meantime, while officials attempt to understand the context of the incident, Elmore said he hopes students engage with each other about the significance of the issue. Unfortunately, he said, the incident is representative of a larger problem that exists in society — a problem that exists at but is not necessarily unique to the university.
“I don’t think we are far away from the society, unfortunately,” Elmore told The Daily Free Press. “I don’t think it’s isolated, but that’s why we have to keep working at this and I hope that people are able to engage each other around this sort of thing in a constructive way and also in a way that lets you talk about your anger and the offense and the deep-seated hurt that goes with this too.”
Elmore added that despite the pain that an incident like this one brings to the university, he is hopeful that it will prompt students to unite and take action against the attitudes and behaviors that are exhibited by the people who commit these kinds of obscenities.
“You’ve got to deal with your own anger, you’ve got to deal with your own frustration, you’ve got to deal with your own fatigue around things like this and you also have to deal with each other,” Elmore said. “People don’t leave the Earth who do and say these things, and so we still have to deal with each other.”
The university is asking that anyone who has information that could be helpful to the investigation share it with the BUPD, BU Residence Life, or the Dean of Students office.
An apology by the student responsible for the slur was sent to residents of the building. An update to this story was published here.