You all saw the campus-wide email that Dean Cruz-Saco sent on Friday regarding chalking. For those of you who didn’t, it read, in part:
Over the past week, a considerable amount of chalking was reported to the Office of Public Safety. This morning, students reported three instances of chalking, one of which was racist, one homophobic, and one anti-Semitic in the area behind Olin Library and along Foss Hill. The Office of Public Safety was called to document and Physical Plant removed the chalking.
Nikko ‘Misko’ Lencek-Inagaki ’07 has sent a wonderful email in reply: (as forwarded to the Endless Acronym listserv)
Dear Dean Cruz-Saco,
I did not see the racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic chalking from last night. I did, however, see the chalking on Wednesday night, which is what I believe you were referring to when saying there had been a considerable amount of chalking in the past few days. The Wednesday chalkings were, when I saw them, rather positive and included messages like “Good Morning Wesleyan”, “I love queers” and the gender-queer/gender-neutral sign.
I write to you because I believe it is important to differentiate these two instances of chalking. The messages were very different. The intentions may have been very different. To speak of multiple incidents of chalking, cite the racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic examples of it, and then lump it all under the medium through which they were expressed gives people who read the email but did not see the various instances themselves (because they were erased between 5 and 8am) the impression that all recent chalking on campus has been racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic and moreover, that chalking itself it to blame.
I think your e-mail also gave the impression that chalkings are only erased when they are negative. I hope that students (especially new students) who see smears of chalk in the morning around Wesleyan do not from now on assume flatly that the messages were erased because they were homophobic, racist or anti-Semitic in content. This is simply not true and a false assumption to perpetuate.
Personally, I believe that both sets of chalkings express sentiments. The messages are coming from people who make up our Wesleyan community, people part of ‘Diversity University’, and their sentiments are part of it, too. I do not believe erasing expressions of these sentiments is an appropriate tactic in the project to eradicate homophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. Your e-mail was wonderful because it communicated to the campus that the racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic chalkings did happen and in doing so fought against a denial that these sentiments occur in our students as well as the denial that these sentiments were expressed publicly (if anonymously).
In sum, I want to thank you for your e-mail but also point out what I think could have made it better. I would also be curious to know what was the content of last night’s chalking.
Thank you for your continued work on campus,