Sometime within the past few weeks, a mural in the dorm side tunnels painted by the Muslim Student Association in 2011 has been vandalized. The words “hate” and “cunt” were faintly scratched into the mural and there was an attempt to cross off the word “science."
According to Rashik Sikder, president of the Muslim Student Association here at RIT, the purpose of the mural was “simply to show the words that would describe Islam, our faith." Words painted on the original mural include “love," “wisdom," “understanding” and “complete." Although the news of the vandalism was met with a degree of sadness from members of the MSA, it also “came to no surprise as we came across the same problem back in 2011 when the mural before [this one] was also vandalized,” Sikder said. The scratched words were covered with white paint and the incident has inspired the group to repaint the mural this year with a new design.
“The investigation is still ongoing," said Anthony Yazback, who is the manager of Investigations at Public Safety. Yazback stated that “we take these incidents very seriously ... and we haven’t seen a noticeable increase of negative actions against any specific groups on campus."
Technology, including cameras and card swipes, are usually the essential tools to find the perpetrator in these types of incidents and has been the main method used thus far. The vandalism was reported on Tuesday, Jan. 31 and Public Safety is still working to find out when the vandalism happened and who it was done by. It has been difficult to find the timeframe in which the act occurred due to the faintness of the scratches which seems to have gone undetected for some time. In the case that the perpetrator is found, the case will be referred to the Student Conduct Office.
The Residence Hall Association (RHA) allows students to paint murals in the tunnels in order to “support creativity and the expression of individualism,” said Marc Billow, president of the RHA. Billow expressed disappointment that the incident occurred but was also glad to see the rapid response of the departments involved.
Although Sikder and members of the MSA are disappointed that these types of incidents are still occurring against their organization, Sikder said he does “feel safe and respected on campus by the majority of the community here at RIT." He invites anyone with any questions or concerns about the Islam religion or the MSA itself to reach out to the group as they are open talking with everyone and are proud of their faith and love to share the peace.