Brittany Ballantyne

Equinox Staff


Male genitalia, drawings that depict dominance, and words that hurt were the issue at hand at the MLK/Civil Rights graffiti discussion held on Wednesday, Jan. 5 in the Mabel Brown Room.

What is being called “bias-related graffiti” has been spotted around campus and in residence halls, causing questions to be raised and the request of a discussion. Homophobic, racist, gender-related, and derogatory graffiti have all been recognized. This particular discussion was requested by students who had heard of or seen the graffiti around campus.

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The panelists included Biology Professor Karen Cangialosi, Education Professor Darrell Hucks, Rabbi Sarah Rubin of the Holocaust and Genocide studies program, Director of Campus Safety Amanda Warman, and Psychology Professor Lawrence Welkowitz.

The group expressed how these words, symbols, and drawings personally affected them. For each of them, certain “bias-related graffiti” took on different meanings in their minds.

Coming from numerous departments of Keene State College, these panelists got together and not only spoke, but opened questions and conversations to the audience.

Audience members made comments and asked their questions aloud that related to the graffiti. One student suggested that artistic graffiti could be painted over graffiti that causes harm. She expressed that if students were given permission, painting artwork over a hurtful word or symbol could not only cover, but overpower the hate graffiti.

Hucks spoke of growing up in the Bronx in New York City and the graffiti that he consistently saw. He explained that graffiti he would see was not hateful words but art, “so I’m having a hard time associating this [bias-related graffiti] with graffiti,” he said.

Rabbi Sarah Rubin spoke of her initial reaction to a swastika symbol that had been seen at the event. “I heard an entire history in one word, in one very generic phrase,” she said. Rubin made reference to the NFL in describing how many fans will bash other teams and those teams fans, but all those teams and fans are there for one thing at the end of the day, which is the game itself. Rubin related that to our campus and the importance of accepting others in our community.

Lucy Webb, writer for marketing and communications, said, “I think if you’re drawing a swastika, you’re trying to gain back some control that you think you’ve lost, and you’re trying to do it in as anonymous of a way as you can.”

Freshman Amanda Inglese, who attended the event, is a resident of one of the buildings that was vandalized.

When asked what she might tell the vandal or vandals given the chance, she said, “They should respect other people’s property, and if they do feel a need to write those things, then find a place where they can write it where no one can see it or keep it on your own property and on your house or in your house, but not out in public for everyone to see.”

Inglese said, “Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with the slurs and stuff because words honestly don’t hurt me at all.”

Inglese explained what she had learned from the discussion event. “It kind of made me realize certain things I say can be hurtful to other people and there’s places I could go if I did feel like I was getting hurt or made fun of in a certain way. And I like hearing other people’s opinions of it, like if they thought it was right or wrong and that it actually stems from society not just the community. We have to take one little step as a community and society to make everyone stop by one person stopping. “


Brittany Ballantyne can be contacted at

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