Dal president responds to 'abhorrent' racist graffiti found on campus

Dalhousie University's president is speaking out against racist anti-black graffiti that was found in the student union building late last week. Halifax police are also investigating.

'As a university, this is really an affront to everything that we stand for,' Dal spokesperson says

Dalhousie University president Richard Florizone sent a memo on Feb. 23 responding to the racist graffiti. (CBC)

Dalhousie University is offering support to students, staff and faculty after racist anti-black graffiti was found in the student union building late last week.

A member of the student union came across the graffiti in a stairwell just after midnight on Friday, according to a memo sent to the Dalhousie community from president Richard Florizone on Friday.

"The words written were abhorrent, deeply impactful and an affront to all that we value and aspire to stand for as a community — inclusion, respect, human decency and dignity," wrote Florizone.

A spokesperson for the university wouldn't go into detail, saying only that it was "significant anti-black graffiti."

"It, of course, occurred during African Heritage Month, and we wanted to demonstrate and show our support that we value our black students, our faculty and our staff and the relationships that we have with African Nova Scotian communities," spokesperson Brian Leadbetter told CBC News on Sunday.

Leadbetter said graffiti at Dalhousie is a problem the university has to deal with every year, but it's not usually racist.

It's unclear who is behind the graffiti.

"It's important for us to acknowledge that as a university this is really an affront to everything that we stand for," Leadbetter said.

Halifax Regional Police confirmed they responded to the incident and removed the graffiti. There was no video footage or other evidence identifying the culprit, police said.

They're asking anyone with information to contact police at 902-490-5020 or Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 1-800-222-TIPS.​

Amina Abawjy, president of Dalhousie University's student union, said she was made aware of the graffiti on Thursday.

"Basically, it says 'Black Schleep' and schleep is crossed out and the N-word is put on top," she said.

Abawajy, is also the student union's first black president, said the graffiti appears to target a campus talk show called Black Power Hour. She said one of the co-hosts of the show, Izreal Jones, uses the tag Black Schleep.

"It still sends a message to black students like myself, black faculty and staff that, despite what we see as progress in society, there are still people who hold anti-black views," Abawajy said.

"It's not surprising at all, it's common. Anti-blackness is prevalent on our campus."

The full text of Florizone's email appears below.



MEMORANDUM


To:          The Dalhousie University community
From:      Richard Florizone, President
Date:       February 23, 2018
Re:          Anti-Black graffiti on campus

Echoing the joint statement from Human Rights and Equity Services, the Dalhousie Student Union and the Office of the Vice-Provost Student Affairs, the Office of the President is affirming its support of Black Students, Faculty and Staff following yesterday's report of anti-Black racist graffiti. 

On Thursday, February 22 at 12:35 am, Security Services received a report from the DSU of anti-Black racist graffiti found on the 4th floor southeast stairwell wall of the Student Union Building.

The incident was immediately reported by Security Services to the Halifax Regional Police and the graffiti removed to avoid further impact on community members.

The words written were abhorrent, deeply impactful and an affront to all that we value and aspire to stand for as a community — inclusion, respect, human decency and dignity. 

We recognize and value our Black students, faculty and staff — and our relationships with African Nova Scotian communities — as a vital part of our University. African Heritage Month provides opportunity to be particularly mindful of the history and legacy of anti-Black racism. Dalhousie University has as its goal a climate free from harassment, racism, discriminatory and violent acts. This behaviour is not tolerated at Dalhousie.

If you have any information about this incident please contact Security Services by phone (902-494-4109) or email (security@dal.ca).  
 
Should you require personal support, the following services are available:

Services for Students:

Student Health & Wellness Centre (livewell@dal.ca)
Black Student Advising Centre (bsac2@dal.ca)
International Centre (international.centre@dal.ca)

Services for Faculty and Staff:


Employee and Family Assistance Program 
Human Rights & Equity Services (hres@dal.ca)

With files from Emma Smith