More Insanity at DePaul: Racial Graffiti a Hoax?

By March 16, 2006

DePaul University has been the site of so many ridiculous assaults on liberty that it has quickly gained recognition at FIRE as a “basket case” when it comes to the issue. Unfortunately, it looks like DePaul is going to need an even bigger basket.

Mathematics professor Jonathan Cohen has the whole story in a must-read post on The American Thinker. On the morning of March 8, DePaul students woke up to an e-mail from DePaul President Dennis Holtschneider informing them that racist graffiti had been found on campus during the early morning hours. The school scheduled an information session and a prayer vigil for students to “reaffirm [their] commitment to fostering a welcoming environment for faculty, staff and students of all races and religions.” This is pretty normal procedure for when racist graffiti is found on campus. But, as Cohen writes, there’s something that DePaul didn’t tell its students about the graffiti:

My instinct for caution was confirmed when I learned that a detail about the incident had been omitted by police and university officials. One piece of the graffiti said the attack was “from the College Republicans.” [Emphasis added.] I spoke with Joe Blewitt of the College Republicans who reported that he and DCA member (DePaul Conservative Alliance) Michael O’Shea had been questioned about the incident by campus officials and cleared of suspicion. They had learned of the graffiti’s attempt to implicate the College Republicans in the course of their discussions with campus authorities.

The university and police officials realized that the College Republicans and the DCA were not involved in the incident. Anyone who took the time to listen to them would have known that they are not racist and they are not anti-Semitic. And furthermore, they would not throw away thousands of dollars and years of their lives invested in attending DePaul to be expelled and publicly humiliated by signing their names to such an obscene act.

This all suggested strongly that the graffiti was a hoax, intended to frame the College Republicans, and that this possibility must have been known to DePaul officials from the beginning. In fact email I received from someone in contact with DePaul officials confirmed that the university recognized that the graffiti may have been an attempt to implicate O’Shea and others.

Yep, the graffiti was supposedly “signed” by the College Republicans—a group that was already under intense fire because members of that organization affiliated with the DePaul Conservative Alliance dared to hold an affirmative action bake sale protest on campus. These are the same College Republicans who saw their attempts to protest a campus appearance by Ward Churchill blocked through administrative duplicity. I imagine nobody will be surprised that FIRE represented both groups in those cases. (Oh, and DePaul also suspended Professor Thomas Klocek without due process for arguing with students outside of class.)

The odds that the DePaul College Republicans would sign a piece of racist graffiti are astronomically low. So low, in fact, that DePaul administrators and police rightly realized the 99.9% probability that this was a hoax. But did they tell anybody? No. Guess what they did say:

DePaul University spokesperson Denise Mattson told WBBM Radio the incident was an assault on the university’s values.

Mattson said the campus has been politically charged since late January when a new campus organization, the DePaul Conservative Alliance, conducted an “affirmative action bake sale” at which blacks were charged less than whites.

“That certainly created some dialogue about affirmative action policies and practices about minorities on campus,” Mattson said.

So when a radio station called DePaul to comment on the racist graffiti, what did they bring up? The affirmative action bake sale! DePaul would have you believe that the fact that an affirmative action bake sale took place on campus led to this instance of racist graffiti, as if true racists were incapable of acting until someone challenged affirmative action.

But, of course, the truth of what DePaul did was even worse. Knowing that the graffiti was almost certainly a hoax, DePaul went on insisting that the graffiti should be taken seriously as an expression of racial hatred at DePaul—even though, if it is a hoax, it is almost certainly the very opposite of that. By not informing students of all the evidence, DePaul was able to twist this incident to serve its own end of discrediting a group of its own students. Read Professor Cohen’s article, and feel free to submit your comments about DePaul’s handling of this issue to President Holtschneider at dholtsch@depaul.edu.

Schools: DePaul University