Purdue students want answers in alleged hate crime

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Students at Purdue University are anxious to find out who among them is responsible for an act of racially-motivated vandalism.

The hate crime, according to university officials, has unnerved some students.

Freshman psychology major Aloyas Gray has met students from almost every ethnicity on campus. Even he finds the vandalism disturbing.

"After I learned about what happened, at first I was a little nervous, but for people who act that way, you probably won't change those type of people," Gray said.

After a peaceful daytime diversity demonstration outside Hovde Hall last Friday afternoon, staff members from the dean's office found hate crime graffiti the same night in the same location. The demonstration included candles left on the stairs of Hovde Hall, which were also vandalized in the incident.

"It is disheartening," said Purdue University Dean of Students Dr. Danita Brown.

Brown has worked with new students and returning students from diverse backgrounds, including students from their international studies.

"It had a derogatory slur and then a picture of a stick figure with a noose, so almost like a hanging," Brown said.

The university has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to hate crimes. Purdue investigators are sorting through video from surveillance cameras.

Both the Office of the Dean and the Purdue University Police Department promise punishment for the vandals.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the university has dealt with this very same issue.

In February 2012, someone wrote racial slurs on the photo of the late Dr. Cornell Bell from the Krannert School of Management. The suspects also marked up a trophy case containing memorabilia located in a student study hall area.

Some students find the vandalism then and now unbelievable, since the university is so diverse - like the job market they will one day try to break into after finishing school.

Katie Schafer is a senior in the school of engineering. In her time at Purdue, she has learned a lot from people who are from not only different backgrounds, ethnicities, and races, but even different countries.

"We are looking at a global market for the professionals out there and it is really important that we interact with each other successfully," Schafer said.

Despite wanting to catch the person or persons responsible for the vandalism, university officials are looking at the incident as a teachable moment.

"I think we can learn a lot of things from people of different cultures and religions," Gray said.

University police is encouraging anyone with information about the suspects to come forward, even if they want to remain anonymous. The punishment at this point could be as severe as expulsion from campus.