Officials at a high school and a university in the Twin Cities area are vowing to combat instances of racism after offensive graffiti was found on their campuses.
In the days after a highly divisive campaign resulted in Donald Trump's election as president of the United States, racial slurs were found written on the sidewalk at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, and in a bathroom at Maple Grove High School in Maple Grove, Minn.
Authorities are investigating both incidents. Maple Grove Principal Bart Becker said in a letter to parents that the school "will work very hard to identify who did this horrible act and determine how e can support the students and staff who have been affected by it."
"This is not who we are,and cannot be tolerated," University President Julie Sullivan and Provost Richard Plumb said in a message on the St. Thomas web site. "We are a Catholic university committed to two fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching: the dignity of the human person and solidarity."
Kate McGuire, superintendent of Osseo Area Schools, which includes Maple Grove High, issued a statement with similar sentiments.
"While I am horrified by yesterday’s incident, I am determined to continue our work to create safe and respectful school communities where we can have productive conversations about race and honor multiple perspectives," McGuire said.
The graffiti at the high school, which McGuire described as "despicable racial slurs," was discovered the day after the election in a bathroom.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the graffiti included anti-black epithets and referenced white power and Trump.
McGuire says the Ossea Area school board's strategic plan specifically addresses racial equity—"including using culturally responsive instruction; disrupting patterns of racial disproportionality; helping employees identify and respond to the influence of race and culture on learning; and developing a more racially diverse workforce....I want to assure you that we will persist in our work for racial equity, and we will continue engaging in conversations about race and the devastating impact of racism in our nation, our communities and our schools."
In the aftermath of the election, other education institutions have issued statements vowing to maintain a tolerant environment for learning.
"With emotions running high after the presidential election, we want to affirm our commitment to the values of diversity, tolerance and fairness in our schools," Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said in a message to families.
"Every one of our students has the right to a safe, welcoming school environment where they feel valued and respected. We are proud of our district’s diversity, and believe that every student, regardless of race, ethnicity, background, sexual orientation, language or culture has the right to reach their full potential.
Video from KMSP-TV: Maple Grove students fight racist graffiti with unity