Westfield State University ups reward, increases security following another racist incident

WESTFIELD — Someone slipped a racist note under a door in the Scanlon Hall dormitory late Wednesday night and antisemitic graffiti was found elsewhere in the building, according to a campus-wide message sent Thursday by President Ramon S. Torrecilha.

As a result, there was a mandatory meeting Thursday night for all students living in the 354-bed Scanlon Hall. The building houses mostly freshmen and sophomores, according to the university website.

Torrecilha said Westfield State is also beginning an around-the-clock, residence hall-based security presence in the next few days. The heightened security will remain in place for the next few weeks through the end of the fall semester.

The university hired outside security vendors for supplemental security professionals as a way to augment our current 24-hour security on campus, he wrote.

Westfield State also doubled the $2,500 reward it announced Nov. 8 following an earlier spate of racist incidents, to $5,000.

The university said:

“The reward now pertains to any of the acts of hate that took place since Sept. 17 and are currently under investigation. It will be granted to any individual who comes forward with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals who are responsible. Individuals with information should contact the newly established Westfield State University Police tip line at 413-572-8690.”

On Tuesday, hundreds of university students, faculty and staff walked out of class in protest of racial bias in all its forms. 

So far this semester, students have reported racist graffiti, vandalism and an assault on a female student. 

Westfield State University has 5,000 full-time undergraduates, 600 part-time undergraduates and 800 graduate students.

According to the university’s statistics for the 2016-17 academic year, the undergraduate student body is 76 percent white, 9.3 percent Hispanic or Latino, 4.6 percent black, 1.5 percent Asian and 4.7 percent listing themselves as members of two or more races and non-Hispanic. A smattering of students listed themselves in other racial categories.