By Susan Larson. File photo copyright Fredericksburg.Today.
Update 2:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17
UMW Administration Responds to Student Outcry Over Hateful Note
Update 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
The University of Mary Washington (UMW) said today in an email to Fredericksburg Today that the term “hate crime” used in a university administrator’s letter on February 16 “was a little misleading.”
“This was NOT a hate crime, Susan!” wrote Anna B. Billingsley, UMW’s Associate Vice President for University Relations, in response to the headline of the story. “It was an incident of hateful literature being found on campus.”
Billingsley provided a copy of Code § 52-8.5. “Here is the criteria for something being categorized as a hate “crime.” We all had to be educated!” she wrote. Potions she highlighted included this:
“A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.”
“We value diversity, and we honor inclusion, and we want people to express themselves, but not in hateful or offensive ways,” Billingsley said.
(Editor’s Note: I based the headline on this sentence in Vice President for Student Affairs Juliette Landphair’s letter: “Any person who has information about the note, or any other hate crimes or speech, (italics mine) should call the UMW Police.”)
Update 7 a.m. Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
BREAKING: Hundreds of fliers spread on campus in response no swastika hate-letter. No source has been identified. pic.twitter.com/XOMt6MauDp— Blue & Gray Press (@theBlueandGray) February 17, 2017
Update 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017
University of Mary Washington President Troy Paino released a video at 8:21 p.m. February 16, in response to the February 5 incident at the school.
A message to the #UMW community: pic.twitter.com/RokOeDp8di— Troy Paino (@PresTPain) February 17, 2017
Update 11 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017
According to University of Mary Washington’s student newspaper The Blue & Grey Press, junior Ahad Shahid and friend Chad Mundie on Sunday, Feb. 5, found a handwritten note with a swastika and “Attention Faggots!! We could live next door” on a bulletin board outside UMW’s gender neutral housing dorm.
“Shahid took a picture of the sign, posted the photo on his twitter account and tagged a UMW twitter account,” Kelly Emmrich reported in her story, “UMW student finds aggressive Nazi message on bulletin board on Campus Walk.
Found by a friend on the board outside of LeeWill we stay silent UMW? Or should we continue being proud of exposed [email protected] pic.twitter.com/0d3qssLK5a— Ahad Shahid (@shahid_ahad) February 5, 2017
Someone else retweeted the post, asking UMW what it planned to do.
@UMaryWash what will you do to ensure the protection of your students who are threatened by hate speech such as this? https://t.co/JxhI2v0ZZf— petty mayonnaise (@goldhoopsno1fan) February 5, 2017
UMW responded the next day.
@goldhoopsno1fan @shahid_ahad UMW does not condone hate speech or crimes. The UMW threat assessment team is investigating the matter.— U of Mary Washington (@UMaryWash) February 6, 2017
“On [Monday, Feb. 6], Shahid went in for a meeting with Dean Rucker regarding his tweet and overall concerns for campus safety. Shahid left the meeting feeling unsatisfied and unsure about the future of campus safety,” Emmrich wrote.
The University of Mary Washington (UMW) announced on Facebook at about 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, that UMW police together with the FBI and the Fredericksburg Police Department have been investigating a hate note posted on campus on Sunday, Feb. 5.
According to UMW Vice President for Student Affairs Juliette Landphair, an undergraduate found the handwritten note posted outside Lee Hall. It contained a swastika and said, “Attention Faggots!! We could live next door.”
Following is Ms. Landphair’s Facebook post. The letter is also attached to this story as a .pdf. We are investigating, and we’ll update this story as more information becomes available.