By James Steinbauer
The two first-years charged with writing offensive graffiti on a bulletin board in Wells Hall have withdrawn from Miami University as of Wednesday evening, according to Miami University Director of News and Communications Claire Wagner.
Because student records are protected under FERPA, Wagner was unable to specify whether the university dismissed William Armour and Samir Lal, or if the students withdrew on their own accord.
Armour and Lal still face misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief and are due to appear before Ohio Area 1 Court at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 16.
In an email to students and faculty, Miami University president David Hodge described the graffiti as being “profane, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic.”
Diversity Affairs Council (DAC) members Magda Orlander and Ifeolu Claytor are worried that an extreme occurrence like this will only normalize the smaller instances that happen on campus and across the country every day.
“It’s not necessarily that students on campus endorse this behavior,” Orlander said. “It’s that we permit it to happen in the first place.”
The incident highlights a growing need for cultural sensitivity on Miami’s campus.
“We as students don’t deeply acknowledge the effect our words and actions have on those who already feel disadvantaged or students who feel like they already don’t belong,” Claytor said.
At 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 4, the Miami University Police Department (MUPD) responded to a graffiti vandalism complaint at Wells Hall.
According to the MUPD report, the resident who lives directly across from the vandalized board heard Armour and Lal while they were in the middle of drawing on it. The resident looked through the door’s peephole and saw two males wearing a yellow and plaid shirt.
Upon arrival, the responding officer found Armour and Lal, clad in yellow and plaid shirts, sitting on the ground, where they confessed to defaming the bulletin board.
“We wrote stupid shit on the board,” they said, according to MUPD’s report. “We’re not racist. We will accept responsibility. We wrote with sharpie on the board. We were assholes. We wrote racist stuff. We regret it. We admit to everything. We were being dicks and dumbasses.”
Lal said that he regrets his actions and that his intent was not to inflict harm on others.
“I sincerely apologize to all who were offended and hope that they will understand that what was written on the board in no way reflects my true feelings both as a minority and as a human being,” Lal said. “My withdrawal from the university is due to my desire to move on with my life in a different setting.”
Though both Samir and Lal have apologized for their actions and withdrawn from the university, Claytor stressed that this isn’t an isolated occurrence exclusive to two students.
“We have this ‘Code of Love and Honor’ that can be too vague and does not identify the real problems that people see on this campus,” Claytor said. “We do too much in response to incidents like this and there aren’t enough students who take a proactive stance against them in the first place.”