Last Wednesday, the staff of MCLA’s Freel Library discovered a swastika carved on to a library desk on the second floor. The graffiti was new, and the desk it has appeared on has been removed. An investigation conducted by Student Affairs and Public Safety is currently underway to identify the culprits.
“We as individuals, and as a community, refuse to allow hate to take root in any way that defaces our campus or causes harm to any member of our community,” President James Birge said in an email sent to all members of students and staff.
“After a visitor alerted staff to a swastika graffiti on a desk, we notified Public Safety and the Vice President of Academic Affairs,” Maureen Horak, Associate Dean of Library Services, said. “We removed the desk and put up a sign and message on our e-board stating that libraries are for everyone and asking students to please let us know if they notice graffiti, anyone writing on the furniture, or any offensive language or symbols. The library staff is now doing daily checks for graffiti, but we may not notice everything, so we are asking students to let a staff member know if they notice anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.”
According to Horak, graffiti has been a constant problem with the library, but the library staff are dedicated to keeping the building an open and inclusive space. The graffiti comes just after a recent refurbishment that brought new study carrels to the second floor.
“Our goal is to keep the library graffiti free. But we don’t want to just react to incidents like this — we want to actively create an inviting and productive learning experience. We are trying to acknowledge and celebrate our diverse community in our collections, our book displays, by partnering with other campus groups, and also by being the kind of space where students feel respected and welcomed.”
However, despite its struggles to remain graffiti-free, Horak does acknowledge that many students do still see it as an open and inviting place.
“The library belongs to everybody, and everybody should feel the library is a place where they belong. In last year’s Supportive and Inclusive Community Survey the overwhelming majority of students felt the library was a welcoming place and we’d like to keep it that way. Please let us know at the library if you have any suggestions for making the library better.”
Anyone with information in regards to the graffiti is encouraged to contact Public Safety at (413) 662-5281.