Westfield State University in Westfield, MA experienced a disturbing display of racism in one of their dormitories at some time yesterday evening. As an owl myself, I felt obligated to address the issue and spread awareness. It is common practice for students to place whiteboards on the outside of their door so people can leave friendly messages. This time, it took a turn for the worst. One of the persons (who will remain nameless), claimed that the derogatory messages left on their whiteboard continued for three days. The most recent and vile message read “ni**ers live here.” It’s a reminder that racism and bigotry is alive and well in America, whether you want to accept it or not.
The aftermath has resulted in swift action from Westfield State faculty, students, friends, family and the surrounding community. At 6:30 AM, Westfield State President Ramon Torrecilha addressed the residence hall where the hate speech took place. Himself and Vice President of Student Affairs Carlton Pickron strongly condemned the deplorable actions of an individual(s) who carried out the offensive terms. They also reassured students that the actions of a few do not represent what Westfield State stands for and want everyone to feel included.
The Westfield State community united today by displaying their feelings on social media, talking to friends and wearing all black. One of my professors even dedicated the first twenty minutes of class to discuss the issue and offer support for anyone who has felt “uncomfortable, unsafe or unwelcome” at any point in their life and urged them to reach out if they needed someone to talk to. Actions and people who share those core values overwhelm discriminatory language and actions and it’s important to speak out against issues that make people feel “uncomfortable, unsafe and unwelcome.”
As of this moment, there has been nobody tied to the messages. In an email to Westfield State students and staff, President Torrecilha stated “we are currently investigating this unacceptable behavior.” He urged students to inform Westfield State officials if they have any pertaining information in regard to the ongoing investigation. If you know something but want anonymity you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below the article.