Racist Incident Sparks Outrage in Colgate Community

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Students come together to create “Fu” decorations, which support and promote awareness of diverse cultures on Colgate’s campus.

Jenny Nguyen, Maroon-News Staff

Two residents of Drake Hall were targets of a racial slur on Tuesday, March 27. The students, who wish to be identified only as Chinese, found the words “Ching Chong Mother F*****” written on their door decoration. The decoration was meant to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, an important festival in the students’ native culture. The racially-charged episode has prompted a campus-wide investigation, as well as a long overdue conversation on racism against Asian and international students at Colgate.

Campus Safety launched an investigation immediately after being notified of the incident. According to Acting Associate Vice President of Campus Safety Dan Gough, a professional investigator has been assigned to the case and is currently conducting interviews. Gough encourages anyone with relevant information to contact Campus Safety by phone, email or via the anonymous tip form, which can be accessed through the Colgate website. 

A new web page will be created where Colgate members can track the case status as well as any publicly available updates.

“It is our highest priority,” Gough said. “We are pursuing all leads to identify the perpetrator(s) of the act and hold them accountable.”  

On Monday, April 2, President Casey emailed the campus, promising  “take appropriate disciplinary actions” against the perpetrator.

Members of the Colgate community were first made aware of the incident via a Facebook post from senior Wanying Yang at 9:39 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27. The post, which has since gone viral, includes an uncensored photo of the defaced decoration and expresses anger at the persistence of racism and intolerance among Colgate students.

“Many of us in the international student community left our beautiful homes and traveled thousands of miles to come to Upstate New York, expecting that we would have a great experience on this beautiful campus and be welcomed by domestic students who are as eager as us to create an awesome college experience, like the poster kids advertised on the Colgate website. Yet we came here finding that we have to deal with racial threats and slurs and discrimination in almost every space on this campus, even in our residence halls where we are supposed to feel safe and protected,” Yang wrote.

Many other international students and students of color have expressed a similar sentiment, recalling their own experiences with racism on campus during an emotional two-hour open forum on March 28. Since then, students and faculty have devised various ways to show solidarity and encourage tolerance. Many students and professors are hanging decorations with the word “fu” (which means “fortune”) on their doors. On March 30, sophomore Haoqi Xia led an impromptu performance in the Coop Dining Hall of the song “Part of Your World” with modified lyrics to protest racial discrimination and promote unity.

A group of concerned students scheduled a meeting with Dean of Admission Gary Ross on April 2, and another with President Brian Casey later in the week to discuss a list of demands. The group is expected to demand increased support for international students and more open dialogue on the subject of racism on campus. 

The Office of Residential Life and Ciccone Commons are working to restore security and harmony within residential halls and prevent any further racially-motivated attacks. Several meetings have been scheduled among staff and residents of the Commons to provide support and reaffirm communal values of respect and inclusivity. Director of Residential Life Stacey Millard stated that the office will also revise its community development model and staff training routine over the summer to more effectively prevent intolerance within residential halls.

“We can prepare our staff to effectively educate our students in communities where treating their neighbors and fellow students with dignity and respect should be the norm,” Millard said.

Contact Jenny Nguyen at [email protected]