On October 28, Mizzou student dorm association president Billy Donley dropped a bomb on his fellow students: somebody at the University of Missouri drew a swastika in one of the school’s dorms. Donley’s claim, which was later expanded to include allegations that the swastika was drawn with human feces, ignited a racial firestorm that eventually led to the resignations of Mizzou’s top two university administrators.
Unfortunately, there’s no publicly available evidence that this incident ever occurred.
By all accounts, Donley, a class of 2018 undergraduate student who serves as the president of the Mizzou Residence Halls Association (RHA), was the first person to publicly reference the poop swastika incident. That announcement occurred on Twitter on October 28.
Very upset and angry to hear that a swastika has been drawn in one of the Residence Halls on Campus. Expect a statement from me later today.
Billy Donley (@RHAPresident) October 28, 2015
On October 29, the first news article about the alleged incident appeared in The Maneater, a campus paper. The sole source for the factual claims asserted in the article appears to be a letter that Donley published on RHA letterhead earlier that day.
In that letter, Donley wrote that the alleged incident occurred at approximately 2:00 a.m. on October 24 in a bathroom inside Gateway Hall, a university dorm. The student dorm president also asserted in his letter that the swastika was not just drawn with feces, but that the perpetrator used his or her own feces to draw the swastika. Donley did not disclose how he came to determine that the poop was human, rather than canine or feline, for example, or that it belonged to the alleged suspect. Donley noted that he did not witness the poop swastika first-hand. Instead, he “found out via a flyer posted on the walls” of the dormitory, according to his letter.
Despite extensive efforts to elicit information from law enforcement authorities, university officials, and even dormitory custodial staff who would have been responsible for removing traces of the fecal vandalism, The Federalist has yet to verify any of the facts initially asserted by Donley.
Repeated phone calls and e-mails to Christian Basi, a university spokesman, went unreturned. Repeated phone calls and e-mails to Frankie Minor, the university employee who oversees all residential life operations, went unreturned.
Billy Donley also refused to return multiple phone calls and e-mails requesting clarifications on the alleged facts of the poop swastika incident. When The Federalist contacted the Mizzou police department requesting information on when officers first responded to the scene and whether they witnessed the poop swastika first-hand, the department spokesman referred all questions to the university’s office of public records.
When The Federalist contacted the custodial department tasked with cleaning and maintaining the university’s many dormitories, a maintenance department staffer referred all questions about the poop swastika incident to the university’s public relations department.
As of Wednesday, zero pictures of the alleged poop swastika have been released. Zero video evidence has been released. No suspects have been publicly identified. No eyewitnesses have publicly come forward to discuss the specifics of the alleged incident. In an age of constant selfies and ubiquitous smartphones, the lack of any photographic evidence of the poop swastika raises serious questions about whether the entire incident was a hoax.
On Wednesday morning, Rabia Gregory, a professor of religious studies at the University of Missouri, asserted on Twitter that one of her students saw the poop swastika first-hand. Unfortunately, Gregory refused to release the identity of the alleged eyewitness.
“I will not identify that student, Gregory wrote. “There have been too many incidents of violent harassment for that.”
Gregory did not respond to phone calls or e-mails from The Federalist asking for information about the alleged eyewitness prior to the publication of this article.
Billy Donley, the RHA president who first started spreading allegations about a dorm bathroom poop swastika, appears to be an avid supporter of the campus protest movement whose demands, spurred in large part by news reports about the poop swastika, led to the resignations of the university’s president and chancellor. On November 6, Donley changed the cover photo on his Facebook page to the black and white logo for ConcernedStudent1950, the student protest group that spearheaded the protests that have consumed the Mizzou campus for weeks:
Donley has thus far refused to respond to any requests from The Federalist for comment on the incident or to provide any evidence that it occurred as reported. As of Wednesday morning, his personal Twitter account was locked and protected, a measure that prevents the public from viewing his tweets.
Under Missouri state law, it is against the law to falsely report a crime to law enforcement authorities. Individuals convicted of falsely reporting a crime to the police, a class B misdemeanor, may face up to six months in prison.
UPDATE: After this article was initially published, Prof. Rabia Gregory responded to The Federalist‘s inquiry for information about the eyewitness to whom she referred in her tweet.
“I actually can’t give out contact information of students without their permission due to how FERPA is interpreted in my college so even if I weren’t concerned for their safety I wouldn’t be able to put you in touch directly,” she wrote. “I will instead pass on your message both over email and in an announcement to both of my classes in a general way and ask that if anyone who was there is willing to speak with you about it they should do so.”
“I think it would be a positive step to get this report verified and to urge campus police to continue their investigation.”
[UPDATE 2:] Late Wednesday night, the Daily Caller obtained the police report of the October 24 incident, which corroborates the basic details of the incident asserted in Donley’s October 29 letter.
The police report, which can be read in full here, shows that an officer responded to a vandalism complaint at Gateway Hall, a Mizzou dormitory, at 2:12 a.m. on October 24, 2015.
“I noticed there was a swastika drawn on the wall by someone using feces,” the responding officer wrote in the report. “There was also feces on the floor located by the entry way to the restroom.”
The bulk of the officer’s report is redacted. No suspects are listed, and no motivations for the fecal display are listed in the police report. The report does not include any photographic evidence of the poop swastika. Although the initial incident occurred in the early morning hours of October 24, the police report was not prepared and filed until the evening of October 29. An official investigator was assigned to the case on October 26, according to the report.
[UPDATE 3]: On Thursday afternoon, pursuant to a public records request previously filed by The Federalist, the University of Missouri released photos of the incident, as well as previously unreported details about an incident the prior week in which a student hurled racial slurs at a white resident of the same dorm. The full details about the documents released on Thursday can be found here.