Thoughts on the Latest Defacement

On Sunday, October 12, three swastikas were chalked on the sidewalk on Old Campus. Dean Holloway, the next day, sent a campus-wide email condemning this act, affirming a campus culture that values respectful openness, and asking those with information to come forward. This situation presents us with the difficult question of how we ought to deal with offensive but anonymous acts of defacement based in hatred. Sure, community-wide and public condemnation of such acts and promotion of more positive and respectful attitudes are important first steps, but can we prevent these situations from occurring in the future?

Especially at a place like Yale, we like to think of the typical college student as intellectually sophisticated, open-minded, and cultured. Each Yalie has an individual interest in maintaining the outward conception that he embodies this description. It seems though that when one can separate his image from his actions this characterization may break down. He may be racist, sexist, or against a particular religion. These hidden personality traits may stem from hatred, but I would venture to say that the less admitted source is ignorance. Yalies don’t like to admit that they are wrong, even if these wrong beliefs are shaping hateful views. Perhaps we need to temper our vision of the idealized Yalie to allow for the possibility that there are some of us who may do offensive and bigoted things. Only then can we deal with the issue. Let’s not let the anonymous become a faceless role model.