“Hateful messages and symbols were painted on several vehicles parked at various locations on campus.” That was the extent of the warning students at Missouri Western State University in St Joseph, Missouri received in a campus-wide email after painted swastikas and ‘KKK’ were reported on cars during the first weekend of January 2015.
“It’s probably just a silly prank, maybe kids having a little too much time on their hands,” said Tim Kissock, interim campus police chief and MWSU Risk Manager. “But it could be something more egregious or sinister and that’s why we have to look into it so carefully.”
— Andrew King (@_AKingPhotos) January 6, 2015
By failing to mention the threatening, racist nature of the graffiti and advising students to be more vigilant in the wake of what looks like a blatant hate crime, the safety of the students and faculty was compromised, and with a student body percentage of black and non-white students surpassing that of the city demographics, it becomes more obvious why the campus became a target for white supremacist vandals. However, the press release made a bigger issue of property damage.
The university’s Safety Report includes acts of “intimidation, and destruction/damage/vandalism of property” as a hate crime, and yet the use of white supremacist iconography in the campus-wide alert email is omitted, choosing instead to repeatedly stress the vandalism of property and negating the implicit threats made by the vandalism.
Kent Heier, the Assistant Director of Public Relations and Marketing for MWSU, defended his wording on Twitter by stating, “I don’t believe “hateful words and symbols” obscures any more than “possible hate crime”” but refused to comment further when it was pointed out to him that a sports rivalry with profanity could also be considered ‘hateful words’ without being a hate crime, therefore, the gravity of the situation was not fully presented to the students and faculty. One faculty member, when asked about the incident stated under the promise of anonymity, “We got an official email about vehicles being vandalized on campus over weekend, but it didn’t say what was involved. Shit, this is a reality check.”
According to the university Clery report website, “there are no Hate Crime Statistics to report for 2011, 2012, or 2013.”
Let MWSU know threats by white supremacists are not “just a silly prank” perpetrated by kids.
On Twitter @MissouriWestern
President, Robert A. Vartabedian 816-271-4237
Kim Weddle Executive Associate to the President 816-271-5673
Shana Meyer (Vice President of Student Affairs) @VPSAMeyer 816-271-5609, office 816-271-4432 email@example.com
Kent Heier, (Assistant Director of Public Relations and Marketing) @kentheier (816) 271-4124 firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Hager (Student Body President) @DanielHager 816-271-4409
Tyler O’Neill (Student Body ExecutiveVice President) 816-271-4409
Jacob Dowell (Director of Student Relations) @ J_Dowell289 816-271-4409
Lionel Attawia (Student Governor) @Lionelkojo307 816-271-4409