White supremacist manifesto at Syracuse University sparks scare after recent racist incidents
'People need to understand this is not a joke and it does take a toll on people's emotional stability,' one student said.
In his four years enrolled at Syracuse University, Jalen Nash, who is black, said he has never felt so scared as in the past couple of weeks.
After a spate of racist and anti-Semitic incidents occurred on campus, Nash's fears culminated Tuesday when officials said there was an alleged attempt to share a white supremacist manifesto linked to mass shootings in New Zealand with Syracuse students in a library. While police in Syracuse, New York, said there was no direct threat, some professors have canceled classes and other students are avoiding the school entirely.
"People are afraid," said Nash, 21, who had been out with his girlfriend Tuesday night and was anxious to get home.
"We were like, 'Yes, we made it home and nothing happened,'" he added. "That's sad."
The foreboding mood engulfing Syracuse University comes at a pivotal moment for the private university. In response to the string of bias-related episodes and vandalism, students have camped out in a building for the past seven days to protest what they perceive is a lack of protection for students of color and insufficient action by the administration.
A forum is planned for Wednesday evening for students after they called on Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud to respond to their concerns. The school on Tuesday released a summary for a proposed action plan, including revising the Student Code of Conduct to make clear the consequences of spreading hate speech, requiring diversity training for new faculty and staff, and recruiting and training more international and multilingual resident advisors.
"What is disturbing is the degree to which it continues to be the case that many students do not feel at home on our campus, and that I've heard before here," Syverud told the independently run student newspaper The Daily Orange. "Indeed, previous chancellors have told me that's been true for a long time, so I just think we have to keep working on it."
But for many, how this administration chooses to move forward will be crucial for not only combating any future racist incidents but also restoring a feeling of safety to the campus of more than 22,000 students.
"A lot of students of color are afraid to walk alone," said Feryal Nawaz, a 20-year-old junior who is involved with the campus movement known as Not Again SU, which is being led by black students. "People need to understand this is not a joke and it does take a toll on people's emotional stability."
Students and faculty have used the hashtag #NotAgainSU to share stories on social media about how the recent events have shaken them.
It’s not even 9am and I have 3 more emails from my students telling me they are not coming to class and/or are going home for the semester because they do not feel safe. That’s 10 of ~50, and each has expressed that @SyracuseU refuses to care for them. #NotAgainSU— Willy (@rebelnpeace) November 20, 2019
On Wednesday, former Vice President Joe Biden, who graduated from Syracuse's law school in 1968, tweeted that he was "deeply disturbed" by the events, adding that "we must give hate no safe harbor."
I am deeply disturbed by the news coming out of my law school alma mater, Syracuse University. We are truly in a battle for the soul of this nation, and it requires all of us to stand up together as a country against racism and bigotry. We must give hate no safe harbor. https://t.co/m6BNczblXY— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 20, 2019
The school's Department of Public Safety this week has stepped up security officer patrols, particularly around residence halls.
In one incident earlier this month, students reported seeing the N-word written in the bathroom of a residence hall. In a separate case, a slur against Asian people was written in the bathroom of another building. A student also reported seeing a swastika written in a snowbank near his apartment complex.
Syracuse police said a criminal investigation was opened into the swastika as well as the posting online of the manifesto, a racist and anti-immigrant screed, that was allegedly attempted to be shared with students via Apple's AirDrop feature. New York State Police and the FBI have joined the investigation.
Read more at NBC News.