Date March 19, 2016

University responds in wake of Marcy House incident

Brown University President Christina Paxson wrote to the campus community on the afternoon of Friday, March 18, to condemn a deeply offensive incident in which hateful messages were discovered in an undergraduate residence hall.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In a message sent to the Brown student body on Friday, March 18, senior administrators from Campus Life and Student Services alerted the community to a deeply offensive incident in which homophobic, anti-Semitic, and threatening graffiti was discovered by student residents of Marcy House. The notification shared an overview of the situation and details on the University's efforts to support students and investigate the incident.

On Friday afternoon, Brown University President Christina Paxson wrote to the entire campus community to express her distress and outrage in the wake of an act that is antithetical to the most deeply held values of the University.

Text of the President’s message

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

By now, many of you have heard about the hateful instances of homophobic and anti-Semitic graffiti vandalism discovered in Marcy House last night. I write to you today to express what I know, undoubtedly, so many of us across campus are feeling — frustration, distress and outrage that an act perpetrated by a sole or small group of individuals has threatened the deep-rooted commitment to creating a just, diverse and inclusive community that we share at this University.

As we have joined forces on campus in recent semesters to discuss and to confront issues related to inclusion, equity and justice, I have found it valuable to review the Principles of the Brown University Community. This statement — to which we all have an obligation to adhere — offers some important reminders about personal integrity and how cultivating an environment of respect, tolerance and understanding leads to a community in which "individual freedoms flourish without threat to the rights and privileges of others." Perhaps each of us should reread this statement today.

In the case of last night’s incident, please know that Public Safety will work with other departments to aggressively investigate, identify the person(s) who committed this hateful act, and hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Acts of bias such as this, which attempt to demean and threaten people based on religion, sexual orientation, race or other characteristics, harm not only their most immediate victims but are antithetical to the most deeply held values of this University.

Quite simply, there is no place for acts like this one on the Brown University campus. I hope that it will only lead to a more urgent and forceful cross-campus effort to build a community in which the respect for all individuals and groups is honored and upheld.


Christina Paxson

Christina H. Paxson
Professor of Economics and Public Policy
Brown University