Buena Vista University insisted that hate speech is “potentially punishable under the law” in a Monday letter to students.
The Iowa school made the statement in response to the drawing and writing of a racist slur and symbol on a student’s dorm. The university identified three black students, three white students and one Hispanic students as targets of the defacement, reported Des Moines Register.
Student Alyssa Parker and her roommate found “n****r” written on their dorm door, as well as another black student’s door. She reported finding “illegal” on a Hispanic student’s door and a message consisting of a swastika and “KKK” on the door of a white student.
“I was just shaking pretty bad,” said Parker to Des Moines Register. “I just wanted to go home and didn’t feel safe.”
“This behavior is heinous and will not be tolerated,” said the university in its Monday message to students. “A $500 reward will be provided to any individual who comes forward to identify responsible parties, if the information leads to a conviction (bold in original).”
“This type of action is considered hate speech and is potentially punishable under the law,” the university added, but did not elaborate on how “hate speech” could violate the law.
Parker said two Storm Lake, Iowa police detectives were interviewing students Monday.
“Persons involved could be facing criminal mischief 5th degree charges / violation of individual rights – hate crimes (Iowa code 729A), serious misdemeanor,” Chris Cole, assistant chief for the Storm Lake police department, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Cole said he could not provide specific information pertaining to the investigation, explaining that it was ongoing.
“Victims of hate crimes often feel terribly alone and afraid,” said Buena Vista president Joshua D. Merchant to students in a statement obtained by TheDCNF. “They have been attacked simply for who they are. Your silence amplifies their isolation; it also condones the act of hate. Victims need a strong message that they are valued. Small acts of kindness can help. I am charging all of you with one small act of kindness before you leave for Christmas break.”
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