Racism Under Investigation at SUNY New Paltz

Police and administrators at SUNY's New Paltz campus have launched a major investigation after several racist signs were discovered, writes Philip Caulfield at the New York Daily News.

The school president said that on Nov. 8, a water fountain on the first floor of the university's Humanities Building was found to have a small but prominent "Colored Only" sticker above it. Another sign in the shape of a hand giving the middle finger was found in Lefevre Hall, a dorm, that said "Lynching n—ers program at 7:30 main lounge," was discovered.

The signs were torn down and given to campus police, and SUNY New Paltz president Donald Christian sent an email to students condemning the incidents.

Two days later, however, another sign calling for "lynching" was spotted in an elevator, the school and students said.

Campus police have announced that they had a few leads, but no arrests have been made.

SUNY New Paltz president Christian called for a campus-wide forum to address the incidents in statements given to students this week.

"We condemn such acts as contrary to our community values, hopes, and aspirations," Christian said in an email on Wednesday.

"While we cannot know the motivations of the person(s) responsible for these acts, having them splinter our community may well feed into [their] goals. We must not allow that to happen."

Junior Jonathan Espinosa, 20, said he was one of the first to see the water fountain sticker. He told the Daily News that some suspected the signs were posted in reaction to Black Solidarity Day, a Nov. 8.

The event meant many black students were given the day off to gather off campus and celebrate their heritage.

"We came together peacefully among each other as family and friends. And for this to happen the day after was very shocking," he said.

The university's student association and black student union held a talk dubbed "Racism at SUNY New Paltz" this week.

"Some students have said to ignore it, but it think if we continue ignore it, we enable to people to continue to do stuff like this," Espinosa said.

11 22, 2011
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