Buxton vandals remain unknown

by Jasmynne Sloan

Nearly a month after racist and sexist graffiti was found in Buxton Hall, college administrators haven’t publicly accused anyone of the vandalism.

“We’ve consistently stayed on top of it,” Stephanie Krauth, associate dean of students, said. “We’ve talked to people and hopefully we’re hoping to see some outcome within a few weeks.”

Director of Security Chris Frerichs is in charge of the investigation. He said he couldn’t comment on any aspect of it because the college is still looking into the vandalism.

Krauth said she couldn’t comment on the status of the investigation due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, commonly known as FERPA.

FERPA protects the privacy of student education records. Simpson’s use of it to refrain from commenting implies at least one student is being investigated.

However, Walter Lain, dean of multicultural and international affairs, said there wasn’t anything new to report.

“I’m not personally aware of any new developments,” Lain said.

According to Lain, even though no one has been officially accused of the graffiti it doesn’t mean the campus community is trying to ignore it.

“A lot of people have come to the realization that we need to do something,” Lain said. “Initially people were quick to rally, and even now we’re continuing to do a good job taking responsibility for the situation. We’re not sitting back and dismissing it as an isolated incident or something someone else did. We are talking about it, and to stop something like this from happening again, we have to talk about it.”

Specifically, Lain said students haven’t been apathetic about the vandalism.

“Students do care,” he said. “I’ve talked to some of them, and I know that at the recent trustee-student meeting, they raised the issue of diversity and had a good discussion about it.”

Krauth said she met with students in Buxton Hall last week, and even though the meeting was voluntary, 35 Buxton residents showed up.

“We raised a lot of issues,” Krauth said. “Overall, their sense was that this is a campus-wide problem, not just a Buxton issue. The students said it could happen in any residence on campus because there are students who do stupid stuff like this.”

Junior Tamra Gustafson lives in Buxton. She said anything the college can do to promote diversity and tolerance is a good idea.

“I don’t know exactly how to go about it, but it would be nice not to walk out my front door and see stuff that’s offensive, not just to others but to me personally,” Gustafson said.

According to Lain, the entire college community has some responsibility to keep hate crimes from happening at Simpson.

“Sometimes I think it may be a question about more security and surveillance, but I’m also not sure we want to do that,” Lain said. “Security does a good job, and increasing surveillance and security could offer a false sense of someone else taking care of any problems. Really, that’s our own responsibility as a community.”

Krauth said the first step toward a safe campus is consciously seeking out different opinions.

“There’s a difference between welcoming [diversity] and embracing it,” Krauth said. “We have to strive, both independently and collectively, to work on it. We can say we want diversity, but sometimes we have to go out and make contact with people who are different from us instead of waiting for them to make contact with us.”

Lain admitted that initially a few students didn’t understand the seriousness of the vandalism.

“Some students said at first that we were overblowing the response,” Lain said. “They said the terms used in the graffiti against women were terms that have been used since junior high. But after talking with them, I think – I hope – they understand the history behind that subjugation of women and some of what’s implied when people use those terms.”

On the other hand, Gustafson would have more of a reaction from the Simpson community.

“I heard stuff was going on, but at the same time it seemed like the college was trying to sweep it all under the rug,” she said. “I just thought there had to be more that could have been done.”

Lain said even though the college hasn’t caught the Buxton vandals, it’s continuing to respond to the graffiti.

“There is hope,” he said. “This is an ongoing response – it’s not like nothing is being done. We will continue to discuss how to make the campus more inclusive and how to make Simpson a learning experience for all kinds of people.”