Last weekend, an individual broke into the Campus Y and committed an act of vandalism.
Vandalism, however, may not be an entirely accurate description of what happened at the Campus Y over the weekend. Rather, it seems that this attack was a targeted one. The perpetrator took staff belongings, destroyed and defaced objects and left racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic messaging and symbols throughout the building.
It’s not the first time an incident like this has happened on UNC’s campus in recent years. In 2019, white supremacists defaced the Unsung Founders Memorial, which pays tribute to enslaved and freed Black individuals who built our University. That same year, anti-Semitic flyers were found in Davis Library, and racist, sexist and anti-Semitic vandalism occurred in Ehringhaus Residence Hall.
The Campus Y is many things: a coffee shop, a meeting space, a place to organize and feel safe. It is the hub for countless student social justice organizations. But most importantly, the Y is a physical space on our campus that both literally and figuratively represents progress and community building. This recent vandalism highlights how vulnerable these goals are — but also how important they need to be.
Marginalized students and community members were targeted with hateful language and symbols, the safety of student leaders was threatened and the building was damaged. The administration must do better to mitigate the threat of white supremacy on campus, and allocate resources to student groups such as the Campus Y to protect them from targeted acts of hatred and violence.
When Silent Sam was defaced, the University significantly increased the statue's protection, implementing physical barriers and around-the-clock vigilance — all at the low cost of $1,700 a day. Why shouldn't the Campus Y and its staff receive the same level of protection?
Most importantly, the individual responsible must be found quickly — the lives of students and staff are being put at greater risk the longer this investigation goes on.
The Editorial Board recognizes the emotional toll this incident has on the lives of members and staff at the Y, as well as Jewish students and students of color. The aftermath and recovery from this attack on our community will require compassion from students, faculty and staff.
As the situation develops, it is critical that we, as members of the UNC community, continue to uphold the values of the Campus Y, including advocacy, activism and service. Since its inception, the Y has always supported us — now it's time for us to support them.
Throughout its history, the University has reckoned with discrimination, racism and bigotry in all forms. All along, the Y has stood in stark opposition to these hateful acts and decisions. It is now especially crucial that students, the University and the community move forward with empathy to support the Y and everything it stands for.
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