The Lipton Residence Hall second floor lounge has been vandalized with an offensive symbol twice in the past month, eliciting shock and anger from Lipton community members.
A Lipton resident, who asked to remain anonymous, was told by a friend that the symbols were swastikas. WSN was unable to independently verify these claims.
According to emails sent to Lipton Hall residents, the symbol was first found by a resident carved into a desk on Wednesday, Jan. 31, and the same symbol was found on Thursday, Feb. 15. It is unknown whether the second symbol was carved into the same desk or was found elsewhere in the lounge.
“NYU prides itself on being a welcoming and inclusive community, and we reject the hateful [symbols] of fear and bigotry … anonymously left in the 2nd floor lounge of Lipton Hall,” NYU Spokesman John Beckman said in a statement to WSN.
NYU Public Safety and the New York Police Department were notified on both occasions. The perpetrators have not yet been found and it remains unclear whether the symbols were drawn by a Lipton resident or by a visitor.
“Such symbols within our community are vile, offensive, and unacceptable,” Lipton Residence Hall Director Ben Jones wrote in an email to residents after the first incident. “We view these matters with the utmost seriousness and will not tolerate such intimidating and intolerant behavior here in Lipton or anywhere else at New York University.”
Jones encouraged students to report information to residence hall leadership while the case is still active, and warned residents that such offenses warrant serious consequences.
“Behavior such as this clearly violates our community standards and university policies,” Jones wrote. “Anyone caught participating in this can expect to be subjected to the University disciplinary system, as well as whatever criminal charges the police may pursue.”
NYU Assistant Director of Residential Life Chris Stipeck wrote a follow-up statement to Lipton residents after the second incident.
“On [Feb. 1], you received an email from [Jones] describing a bias incident in the Lipton 2nd floor lounge,” Stipeck wrote. “As the assistant director of Residential Life overseeing all first-year communities on campus, I write to you today in great disappointment. The same hateful symbol was discovered in the lounge last night.”
Echoing Jones’ remarks, Stipeck urged residents with more information to come forward, and informed residents of support-oriented resources on campus.
“I am regularly encouraged and proud of the vibrant, caring community within Lipton Hall and am saddened by the actions of whoever defaced the lounge with such a horrible image,” Stipeck wrote. “If you or any of your friends were witness to this account or have any additional information, I implore you to come forward by replying to this email, contact any member of your professional staff in the hall, or talk to your [Resident Assistant].”
LS first-year and Lipton resident Maia Bernstein was surprised at the news, but feels encouraged by how Lipton leadership and NYU have responded.
“I was actually a little shocked when I received the email from Lipton,” Bernstein said. “I knew nothing about the incident beforehand … but I’m glad residential life is taking action. If anything, this has made me more confident in NYU’s concern for its students.”
Another Lipton resident, LS first-year Christy Wong, sees the incident as reflective of society’s continual struggles against bigotry, even in supposedly welcoming and progressive communities.
“You’d think that at a school as liberal and inclusive as NYU, students would know how to love and respect others even when they’re different from them,” Wong said. “This incident really makes you realize how despite the society and school’s advocacy on respect and inclusivity, people’s mindsets are still hard to change.”
Email Alex Domb at [email protected]