In response to a public records request filed earlier this week by The Federalist, the University of Missouri’s custodian of records released pictures today of the vandalism incident, reports of which shocked the campus and sparked protests that eventually led to the resignations of the university’s two top administrators.
The pictures released by the university show a swastika drawn on the wall of a unisex bathroom stall on the third floor of Gateway Hall, a university dormitory. According to an accompanying incident report which was also provided pursuant to a public records request, photos were taken by dormitory advisors and two police officers. A heavily redacted police report detailing the the university police department’s response to the incident was provided to a handful of media outlets on Wednesday evening.
In the initial incident report filed summarizing the incident, university officials classified the situation as a “hate crime.” Although the situation was originally called in as “vandalism,” Maj. Brian Weimer, the public information officer for the university police department, informed university officials via e-mail that the charge had been reclassified to “tampering,” since no permanent damage was done to the bathroom.
“Just so everyone knows this case from our end will be reclassified as tampering,” Weimer noted in an October 26 e-mail. When Frankie Minor, the head of the university’s residential life department asked why the reclassification was necessary, Weimer explained that the lack of damage necessitated the reclassification.
“[T]here is no damage just the cleaning up,” Weimer responded. “If they would have carved into the wall with knife or something and caused damage it would be vandalism.”
E-mails released to The Federalist today show that university officials immediately responded to reports of the October 24 incident. The school’s Title IX office was immediately notified, as were representatives of the school’s minority communities. Officials discussed in detail the best ways to respond to the incident, who to notify, and how to convene meetings with students and dormitory residents to discuss the incident.
Just hours after he learned of the incident, Minor, the residential life director, e-mailed the executive director of Mizzou Hillel to notify her of the anti-Semitic symbol that had been scrawled on the wall.
“Thank you for letting me know about this and including me in these discussions,” Mizzou Hillel executive director Jeanne Snodgrass responded. “As always, myself, our Hillel, and members of the Jewish Student Organization would like to help in any way we can.”
The e-mails also detail a disturbing and previously unpublicized racial incident that happened on the same floor of the same dormitory the previous week. According to a dorm hall coordinator, a white dorm resident was the subject of racial slurs.
“We did have another incident that was just reported last week where an intoxicated individual said ‘bitch ass nigga’ to a white resident, when having a heated interaction with multiple black residents in the third floor lounge, which is the same floor this bathroom incident happened on,” Gateway Hall hall coordinator Susan Cohn wrote to multiple university officials on the morning of October 24. “The individual that reported said he was offended by this but felt like it was not directed towards him or the other black residents in the lounge.”
“[The University of Missouri Police Department] followed up with this resident Friday afternoon,” Cohn noted.
Salama Gallimore, the lead investigator in the university’s Title IX office, responded to Cohn’s e-mail and suggested that the student involved in that particular incident may well have been responsible for the poop swastika in the bathroom.
“The accused student in the above incident has also been reported to have made anti-semitic remarks to the members of a Jewish fraternity,” Gallimore wrote.
“It is possible that the aforementioned student may be responsible for the swastika vandalism as he is a resident of Gateway. Since the student has allegedly engaged in acts of racism and anti-semitism, I feel that it is important to consider that the swastika drawn in fecal matter (even if it was not drawn by the student under investigation) was meant to offend and threaten a larger population of our campus community in addition to Jewish students.”
“When discussing a response to the vandalism, please be mindful that the swastika is offensive and threatening to individuals from various racial, religious, and regional backgrounds, myself included,” Gallimore concluded.
Neither the race nor the ethnic background of the suspect in that incident are mentioned in the e-mails released by Mizzou. Additionally, no potential suspects for the poop swastika incident were specifically mentioned by name in any of the documents released this week by the university.