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Racial Slur Found Scratched Into Carpenter Hall’s Elevator


A report of the “n-word” being etched lightly into the wall panel of an elevator at first-year residence hall Carpenter Hall was taken by Drake Public Safety on Sept. 6. 

Chief Student Affairs Officer Jerry Parker notified students of the incident through an email sent out at 6:09 p.m. Sept. 6. President Marty Martin sent a follow-up email at 6:38 p.m. urging anyone who has any information regarding the incident to come forward.

Director of Public Safety Scott Law states that his staff received the report at about 3:20 p.m. on Sept. 6, though the identity of the individual who committed the act remains unknown. The incident is currently an open investigation.

“We are trying to gather information from anyone who may have seen or may be aware of the circumstances surrounding the writing in the elevator,” Law said. “If we are able to determine who is using the hate speech we will refer them to Student Affairs for follow-up.”

According to Law, there are no CCTV cameras built into the elevator. Cameras are only placed in the dorm lobby, making it difficult for public safety to identify the individual through all the students walking in and out everyday. 

“I’m petrified for my life,” resident Shallon McGowan said. “As an African-American, you have people that live in this residence hall or have access to this residence hall that are just filled with so much hate as they have the audacity to write something so offensive to a specific minority group. And they’re comfortable with that.”

A member of the Crew scholars program, she has since relied on sharing her feelings about the situation with her Crew family and mentors to decompress.

McGowan first heard about the racial slur etching through Parker’s email. Parker stated that Drake does not tolerate such derogatory terms and expressed his apology “to our students impacted, and especially to students of color.” 

First-year Isatu Kallay, a resident of Carpenter Hall, expressed her discontent with the generic nature of the email. Kallay had first learned of the incident through her roommate.

“It failed to address the right demographic of what was said because it just said people of color, instead of just Black people,” Kallay said. “It doesn’t really involve people of color in this incident, considering that it was a Black slur.”

This is not the first time this year that the Drake community has encountered racist actions. 

“I would just like campus administration to stop watering stuff down and to target the demographic that they’re trying to apologize to, and to hold students accountable,” Kallay said. 

Before many students returned to campus for the fall semester, Crew scholars were visiting the Sprout Community Garden when students discovered the “n-word” written on a whiteboard in the garden.

Then during Welcome Week, the “You. Me. We.” workshop, featuring outside group High Impact Training, was held with the intent to engage students with skits to raise awareness on racism and sexism. 

Instead, many students were hurt by harmful remarks during a Q&A session involving first-year students and the group’s actors who were meant to stay “in character.”

“Students were saying very derogatory stuff. Nothing was done to stop them, they weren’t reprimanded in any way – they were just let go,” Kallay said. “It happens all the time and they always say that they’re gonna take action against the students but…they never do anything.”

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