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SOU Grapples With Hate Speech, Racist Graffiti In Dorm Rooms

Racist graffiti scrawled over a black student’s dorm room door and other recent incidents of hate speech have angered students and administrators at Southern Oregon University.

SOU has been investigating incidents of vandalism and hate speech that started appearing in January on the same floor of one of its residence halls. Administrators have yet to identify the perpetrators.

President Linda Schott says the university is doing everything it can to help students who are grappling with fear and frustration.

“I’m angry that there are individuals who express themselves in this way,” Schott says. “We also, though, believe as a campus, very deeply, in freedom of speech. So we want to balance and make sure what’s hate speech will be condemned, what’s protected speech will be protected.”

Some students say they’re frustrated that key administrators like Schott didn’t attend the Black Student Union meeting about the vandalism, and that it took a month for the university to openly discuss it with them.

"We recently wanted [Schott] to come to our meetings but at the same time are disappointed/frustrated at the fact that we do not see President Schott visibly doing anything for students of color," Black Student Union president Bathscheba Duronvil wrote by email.

Schott says her door is open to students or staff who want to discuss the events.

“My goal as president is to hear from as many students as wish to talk to me,” she says. “I really want to understand their experiences. I know that our campus does value diversity and inclusion, but I also know that we don’t always live up to those values.”

The university is hosting an all-campus forum about hate speech on Friday at 1pm in SOU's Rogue River Room.

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