Swastikas and the N-word graffiti found at UNH

  • —Facebook screenshot

  • A Facebook screenshot shows the image that got student senate fraternity and sorority liaison Christina Bianco fired from her post amid rising tensions over racial sensitivity at the University of New New Hampshire. The student senate attached it to its statement explaining the decision to dismiss Bianco. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Campus police are investigating incidents of racist graffiti found in student housing over the weekend at the University of New Hampshire.

The graffiti are the latest in a string of racially charged moments at UNH, where students and administrators sat down for an explosive three-hour town hall-style event last week to discuss racism on campus – examples of which students of color told administrators have only increased since the election.

The town hall, which took place Thursday, doesn’t appear to have eased tensions. On Friday, swastikas were found scrawled in a stairwell at the freshman and sophomore dormitory Stoke Hall. On Sunday, a message board in freshman dormitory Williamson Hall that read “Be an ally” had letters removed to read “Be an al.” In ballpoint pen, the N-word was written in capital letters across the board.

Erika Mantz, a spokeswoman for the university, said Monday that UNH police were investigating both incidents.

“We are very disturbed by incidents like this,” Mantz wrote in an email. “We are committed to working in partnership with students, faculty and staff to improve our campus culture and to address overt and covert acts of hate and racism.”

Meanwhile, the student senate on Saturday fired its sorority and fraternity liaison, Christina Bianco, over a picture posted to social media in March that appeared to depict someone in a Native American headdress and blackface.

“We as a governing institution completely condemn the person who posted the photo, the people in the photo, and any racial abuse that occurs on this campus,” the student government wrote in a statement posted to Facebook.

UNH Student Body President Carley Rotenberg said in an interview Monday that Bianco had been “extremely apologetic” when Rotenberg brought up the picture over the weekend, immediately taking it down.

Bianco wasn’t in the picture, and, according to Rotenberg, said she hadn’t even noticed the person in blackface.

“She posted it to be like, ‘Oh look, my friends are hanging out,’ ” Rotenberg said.

Still, Rotenberg said the student senate felt the lapse in judgment wasn’t acceptable for somebody in a leadership role.

“It’s unfortunate; I’m sure she didn’t do it on purpose,” Rotenberg said. “But in the position that she was in – you have to realize stuff like that.”

(Emily Young contributed to this report. Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)