Following incidents of hateful vandalism in its second floor lounge, Lipton Residence Hall’s administration team swiftly addressed the issue with the degree of seriousness that the offenses warranted. The university’s efficient response is a refreshing contrast to how NYU has handled similar issues in the past. The actions taken within Lipton Hall should be treated as an example for how the university should respond to incidents of hate and bias in the future — with severity.
After swastikas were found twice within the span of six weeks in the Lipton Hall lounge, Lipton Residence Hall Director Ben Jones issued an email denouncing the symbols as “vile, offensive and unacceptable.” The second act of vandalism prompted another email, this time by Assistant Director for Residential Life Chris Stipeck, who mentioned that both Public Safety and the New York Police Department were notified. After hate symbols were found in Lipton’s lounge a third time on Feb. 22, the administration quickly responded by shutting down the lounge, sending another email notifying residents they were required to attend floor meetings with their resident assistant and that Lipton would be installing security cameras in the lounge the following day. In the meetings, it was reported that RAs offered their support to students and asked them for any information regarding the crime, assuring that the identity of any informants would be kept anonymous.
This was a proactive and reassuring response by NYU, but unfortunately, it has not been the path they have taken in the past. For example, last semester, graffiti appeared in the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library bathroom reading, “Hasta Luego Dreamers.” While NYU’s Public Safety department started an investigation, no further action was undertaken and a report on the incident has not been released. Earlier this week, an NYU student complained about Weinstein Passport Dining when it served food that plays into racist stereotypes for Black History Month. While the workers responsible were fired, NYU did not know about this until a student brought the issue to their attention. The greatest problem we have seen with NYU’s administration is the Bias Response Line’s lack of action — finally released a report two semesters after it was promised, following controversy over the handling of a student report of an allegedly transphobic professor.
The quick and thorough response to the hateful display in Lipton should serve as an example of how the NYU administration should respond to incidents of bias. The delayed BRL report, the lack of a report regarding the anti-Dreamer vandalism and the administration’s lack of awareness of the meal at Downstein for Black History Month are examples of how NYU’s responses have been inadequate in the past. Going forward, NYU must prioritize its students by supporting them through prompt and definitive action.
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A version of this appeared in the Monday, Feb. 26 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected].