It was reported to university police on Saturday, Jan. 3, that multiple vehicles on campus had been vandalized with racist messages.
An estimated five cars on campus, and an unknown number off campus, were painted with what the university is calling “hateful words and symbols,” which consisted of swastikas and the letters “KKK.”
Risk Manager and Interim Police Chief Tim Kissock believes that the crime was not directed at any individuals or specific groups of people.
“This appears to be just a random act of vandalism,” Kissock said.
On Monday, Jan. 5, Assistant Director of Public Relations and Marketing Kent Heier sent an email to the campus community which described the incident. The email also informed the university that an investigation was underway, and offered anonymity to anyone who may have information about who the vandal(s) might be.
Kissock explained that the investigation appears to be gaining success.
“We have someone we are looking at,” Kissock said. “However, our investigation is not finished at this time.”
Several members of the community have shown concern and disappointment over the way that Western has handled this situation.
On Monday, Jan 12, sophomore Cory Stephens and Western alumnus Nicholas Brothers attended a Student Government Association meeting on campus in order to express their concerns.
Both men believe that, due to the high number of minority students at Western, the incident should be treated as though it were a threat, and that something should be done by student leaders.
“The public facing response was something of making out to be a joke, trying to downplay it,” Stephens said. “I think that it has a lot to do with the university trying to get the public behind the Spratt renovations.”
“I just wanted […] student leaders to make sure that the administration knows that students and alum do take it seriously.” Brothers said. “We are unsafe by this.”
Several SGA leaders opened up a discussion about what should or could be done in order to improve the situation, but no official course of action was implemented.
Western student and Beshears Hall resident Nicole Gardner’s vehicle was vandalized. Her car, like others, had a random phone number painted onto it, as well as the word “hoodrats.”
Gardner claims she has no idea how the university is handling the investigation, but is very unhappy about the incident.
“I personally found it very disrespectful,” Gardner said. “Whether it was supposed to be a joke or not, it was rude and not appreciated.”
According to Western’s safety report found on the university website, no hate crimes were reported for 2011, 2012 or 2013. The report for 2014 has not yet been published.