Graffiti reading “Rape Haven” was found on the front wall of the Delta Upsilon fraternity Tuesday morning. Several fraternity members saw the graffiti and proceeded to contact Public Safety. While the responsible parties remain yet unnamed, the incident is under active investigation by Public Safety.
“This kind of vandalism is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated on this campus,” wrote Director of Public Safety Mike Hill. Interim President Constance Hungerford offered no comment on the graffiti, but directed the Phoenix to Public Safety for answers.
Dean of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Development, Lili Rodriguez, and Hill also distributed a statement to the student body on Wednesday afternoon condemning the vandalism.
“We are deeply disappointed by this behavior,” read the email. They asked that students with any information about the graffiti come forward to either Hill or Rodriguez. They also stressed the importance of maintaining a respectful environment. “Building a community is not an easy task. It takes genuine effort from all members. One of the commitments we need to make, to reach that goal, is to treat one another with the respect and dignity that all people deserve,” they wrote.
DU itself also responded to the incident. The fraternity released an official statement on Tuesday afternoon.
“We were surprised and dismayed to find graffiti sprayed on the front of the Delta Upsilon Lodge this morning,” said Vice President Brian Kaissi ’15. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms both the act of vandalism itself and, more importantly, the message that it displayed. We truly appreciate the support we have gotten from members of the Swarthmore community since this incident and we look forward to continuing to work with the campus to create positive change.”
Still, some students were concerned by these responses, particularly given that the administration nor the fraternity addressed the implications of the graffitied message.
“If you find yourself more disturbed by vandalism than rape, you definitely need to rethink your priorities,” Haydn Welch ’15 said.
Others were upset by the fact that maintenance staff were made responsible for the graffiti.
“[M]y question is who exactly they thought would be cleaning that up?” wrote Aya Ibrahim ’15. In addition, Ibrahim expressed disappointment about maintenance staff’s exclusion from conversations regarding important campus conversations, like the ones addressed by the graffiti and the ensuing reactions to the vandalism.
“Privilege comes up again and again, what about the privilege of always having people to clean up our messes? Is it not possible that the same people who are dedicated to maintaining our campus, our spaces, wouldn’t have any ideas on how to make them safer?” she said.
The graffiti comes in the wake of lively pro- versus anti-fraternity discussions happening within and amongst the Swarthmore community on platforms as diverse as newspaper op-eds and the anonymous posting app, Yik Yak.
This is not the first time that a Swarthmore building has been defaced. In the spring of 2013, urine was found on the door of the Intercultural Center multiple times. Later that year in the fall, students living in one of the lodges discovered the words “Rape Dungeon,” amongst other phrases, scrawled in the basement of the building.
The same words, “Rape Haven,” were graffitied on the exterior of the co-ed Princeton eating club, Tiger Inn, in December, according to the New York Times. The graffiti, the Times wrote, appeared after two officers of the club were removed for sending sexually explicit and threatening emails to others in the eating club.
As the investigation continues, Public Safety plans to report the to the student body when that information is solidified.
“[T]his incident will be included in the weekly summary that Public Safety publishes and shares with the community. Any status updates will also be shared with the appropriate campus constituents,” said Hill.