CW/TW: This article features content regarding racism and racial slurs, including images of racist graffiti targeting Black students. While all profanities, including slurs, are censored, readers’ discretion is advised.
An Albion College student was identified as the person responsible for a string of racist and anti-Semitic messages written in the Mitchell Towers residence hall from March 28 to April 6, according to an email sent by the College from President Mathew Johnson on Wednesday morning.
This comes one day after Johnson and Leroy Wright, dean of students, announced via email that the FBI would be supporting the Albion Department of Public Safety (ADPS) and the Office of Campus Safety in their investigation.
This announcement was followed by another mark of graffiti within Mitchell Towers that read, “Call the swat #KKKTime.”
In a statement shared with the Pleiad, Johnson said the individual responsible for the graffiti acknowledged their responsibility for their actions with video and audio evidence corroborating their claim.
“Earlier today, we identified the individual responsible for the racist and anti-Semitic graffiti in Mitchell Towers,” said Johnson via email. “The student, who was acting alone, acknowledged their responsibility for these incidents, and was immediately removed from campus and placed on temporary suspension while we conduct a full investigation as part of our student judicial process.”
Johnson specified in an additional email sent Wednesday afternoon to students and staff that the individual was a “current student of color.” No further information about who the student is or the motive for their actions has been provided.
Local law enforcement does not believe there is an ongoing threat to the community.
The news of the identification of the responsible student was supplemented with a series of conversations on Wednesday between the College and members of the community.
“Upon identifying this individual, we met with several key groups within the Albion community—students, faculty, staff and community stakeholders—to shape the College’s response together,” said Johnson via email. “Those meetings were both productive and emotional, and we thank those who participated in what will be a critical and ongoing conversation on campus.”
In his statement to the Pleiad, Johnson also acknowledged the College’s past with racist incidents.
“It is important to acknowledge that we know the acts of racism that have occurred this week are not about one particular person or one particular incident,” said Johnson via email. “We know that there is a significant history of racial pain and trauma on campus, that the college has not always responded well to that pain and trauma, and we are taking action to repair our community. We will change and heal together as a community, because we are committed to doing the work. Right now, we encourage all members of our community to listen, respond and care for one another, and lean on the faculty, staff, and community members who have been gathering today to make sure we are supporting you. We have your back.”
Since March 28, Mitchell Towers has been vandalized with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti on at least four different occasions. One of the most violent messages came on Monday when the message, “White lives Matter Rally at 4/7/2021 Let’s Kill all N—— on this Campus” was left.
This message was acknowledged by Johnson in another email sent to all students, staff and faculty on Tuesday.
“We are aware of the threats related to a potential counter-rally focused around racist and white supremacist ideas on campus this week,” said Johnson via email. “We are working proactively with campus safety and local law enforcement and both are prepared to respond should something occur on campus. The safety and protection of our students is our top priority, and we are committed to affirming our students’ right to live in an area that is free of intimidation, physical, or emotional harm.”
The graffiti in Mitchell Towers is one of three incidents of anti-Black racism on and near campus since March 26. On March 26, a Black student was harassed and threatened by a non-student while driving. On March 27, a Residential Assistant in Wesley Hall found a racist message written on the whiteboard of their door.
ADPS has identified a person of interest in the incident from March 26. No further updates have been given regarding the incident from March 27. Both cases are still ongoing.
The Office of Campus Safety was reached out to for comment but did not respond in time for the publication of this article.
Anyone with additional information about these incidents is encouraged to contact Albion College Campus Safety (firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-629-1234) or the Albion Department of Public Safety (517-629-3933) to make a report.