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Slur found at Grace College dorm prompts hate crime probe

Posted at 10:55 AM, Oct 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-10 14:23:39-04

WINONA LAKE, Ind. (AP) -- A Christian college in northern Indiana says a racial slur found written outside a student's dorm room is being investigated as a hate crime.

Grace College & Seminary President Bill Katip says in a statement that the message found written on a chalkboard Monday left him "angry and heartbroken." He says racism will not be tolerated at Grace College and there is "no place for hate on our campus."

The message was found at a dorm on the school's campus in Winona Lake. A photo of the slur directed at black people was shared online. It said "N****** don't belong here."

Tips are being sought from Winona Lake police as part of the investigation and counseling is being offered on campus.

Read Grace College's full statement on the slur below: 

Racism and harassment of any kind is not tolerated at Grace College.  Throughout the past summer, we took action to address and improve racial sensitivity and inclusiveness on campus.  These efforts included discussions with African American alumni about their student experience at Grace, an all-faculty and staff meeting to discuss racial sensitivity and inclusiveness, reorganization of various multi-cultural clubs on campus into the Council for Diversity and Inclusion, and the creation of an advisory group on race and diversity comprised of leaders on these issues.

Immediately upon learning of the hate incident in a residence hall this morning, action was taken to address it.  The Grace College Campus Safety Office and the Winona Lake Police Department commenced investigations.  Grace College administrators communicated personally with the student targeted and his parents.  An all-campus email was sent from Grace College President Dr. Katip to inform students, faculty and staff of the incident and provide contact information to report additional information about this or other hate-related acts as well as contact information for student counseling services.  In addition, faculty were instructed to read the statement to each class held today.  This afternoon, an all-campus meeting was convened to address the incident.  Dr. Katip spoke from his heart on the matter, explained what was being done to address it and led everyone in prayer.  This evening two separate meetings were held on campus: one for African American students and another for students who live in the residence hall involved to share their concerns, information and ideas to address the matter.  Tuesday morning an open meeting will be held for all of those on campus affected or concerned about this or related incidents at Grace.

In the days ahead, Grace College will provide updates to the campus and the public as appropriate regarding the investigation and our actions to address this incident.  We will continue to seek answers for how best to respond, grow and understand as a campus.  We will take all actions necessary to stop any and all harassment on campus and prevent it from reoccurring while we care for and minster to those affected by today’s incident. Grace College is steadfast in our commitment to ensure all people feel welcomed and respected on our campus.  As Dr. Katip shared this afternoon, we must be “an inclusive, welcoming, respectful, civil, and loving community of believers — one that loves all our neighbors in ways that demonstrate the love of Jesus, in keeping with the Word of God as our authority.”

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