Bates students have criticized the college’s response to anti-Israel graffiti that was discovered over the weekend.
The students claimed that the graffiti did not express anti-Jewish sentiment, but concern over the ongoing conflict between Gaza and Israel, the Sun Journal reported.
Bates College called the Lewiston police, who notified the Maine attorney general’s office about the graffiti, which is being investigated as a potential hate crime, but students had voiced their disapproval of the way that college officials handled it.
The Bates student government, along with 14 other student organizations, called the college’s response “a censure of student voices” that “makes students feel unsafe and oppressed on our campus,” according to the Lewiston newspaper.
Students said they “cannot turn our backs on victims of apartheid and occupation when it becomes inexpedient to speak up. It is hypocritical that Bates College has chosen to neglect the humanity of the Palestinian people while claiming to be an anti-colonialist, anti-racist and abolitionist institution.”
Students feel Bates’ response could negatively impact the safety of students of color, according to the newspaper.
Bates officials defended the college’s response, saying that it was working to connect with students to “create opportunities to promote deeper understanding across divides and provide space for discourse focused on healing as a campus community,” and that the college was dedicated to encouraging openness and inclusion in order to support every student, according to the Sun Journal.