On November 12th, 2011, an unknown individual wrote the phrase “All Niggers Must Die” on the walls of the dormitory on campus. At first, the exact words that were written on the walls of the Prospect dormitory were not revealed to the student body. Instead, the administration sent out this email to the student body:
To the Williams Community, It is both saddening and upsetting to report that a racially hateful phrase was written last night on a wall in a student residence hall. It did not seem targeted at an individual. The writing was removed and a full investigation begun. There is no place at Williams for such behavior. In addition to the effort to indentify whoever is responsible, we will be in touch regarding ways that we can together respond to this attempt to disrupt our community.
Adam Falk ,Sarah Bolton,Steve Klass
The email that was sent allowed students to make many assumptions. They include: 1) the targeted group was probably “Blacks,” the racial graffiti was more than likely a racial slur and/or phrase, and finally that the racial graffiti definitely did not include a death threat. Another factor that many believed played a role in the reporting of the incident to students was the fact that Homecoming was the same weekend. Did administration send out a vague email to prevent a campus-wide scare? The administration insisted that Homecoming activities had nothing to do with the reporting process. Many to this day wish that the administration had been more transparent in their initial email because they believed that it definitely could have changed the way that students, faculty, staff, and alumni organized their actions and moves that day.
A select group of students were notified about the incident later that night after most of the Homecoming activities had come to an end. During the series of meeting that night, students voiced their frustrations with the administrations initial response. Many students also demanded that the college take several immediate ; these actions included that a more transparent protocol in place for future events, officially labeling the incident as a “hate crime,” and the cancelling of classes on the following Monday. Out of the three listed, efforts and progress were made on all three. The willingness from the administration to meet all of the demands made by students gave many the impression that significant changes would be made.
To date, the college has reported information on the efforts and progress that has been made in their investigation. The perpetrator has not been found, but efforts are still being made to figure out this crime.
Below are some responses and official reports of the Hate Crime at Williams College.