Police in Winona Lake, IN, have opened an investigation into what officials at a local Christian college and seminary have publicly denounced as a hate crime which took place early Monday morning.
In a letter to the Grace College and Seminary community released Monday morning, school president Bill Katip said he is “angry and heartbroken” after a students at the school discovered a message stating “Niggers don’t belong here” written on a dorm room door. According to the Evangelical Christian liberal arts college’s most recent diversity report from Fall 2016, just over 5%—or 131 out of 2,300—of the full-and-part-time student body was black.
“As we investigate, let me be absolutely clear: racism will not be tolerated at Grace College,” Katip wrote. “We are first and foremost a community of believers in Christ. We are one body called to edify and love one another. There is NO place for hate on our campus. If you believe there is, then you do not belong on our campus.”
According to Katip, Winona Lake police are investigating the racist graffiti as a hate crime, and anyone within the school community with knowledge of the incident should report it to campus officials.
In a separate statement from the school itself released shortly after President Katip’s letter, the college said that the racist incident came after a summer effort in which Grace had taken 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.
In addition to President Katip’s statement, and the police investigation into the racist graffiti, Grace also held a pair of campus meetings on Monday afternoon.
I have reached out to the Winona Lake Police Department for a statement about their investigation, and will update this story with their response.