RSA tackles racism following incident in residence halls


Rita Offutt, Editor

La Salle’s Resident Student Association (RSA) hosted a community debriefing event on Feb. 2, 2021 to discuss the hate symbol found in St. George on Jan. 18, 2021. The debrief covered details about the incident and focused on how the La Salle community can overcome acts of hate. The meeting was hosted and led by RSA president Elizabeth Hallinan and other executive board members. It was attended by La Salle’s Director of Public Safety Compliance and Investigation Eva Howard, the Assistant Vice President of Student Engagement Anna Allen, the Director of Multicultural Affairs Cherylyn Rush, the Director of Residence Life TiRease Holmes and the Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Dr. Dawn Soufleris. 

Howard opened the meeting by explaining the incident. On Jan. 18, Public Safety received a request for an investigation after several etchings of racist speech were found written in a restroom stall. The incident was investigated, and included interviews of all of St. George’s residents. Ultimately, Public Safety was unable to determine when the etchings appeared and if they were written by a current resident. The bathroom stalls where the writings have been sanded down, painted over and repaired. Residents have been instructed to contact Public Safety immediately if they notice further damage. 

Soufleris explained how Public Safety’s process overlaps with La Salle’s proceedings. Following the report of the incident, La Salle’s Biased Incident Response Team (BIRT) met and determined how to proceed. BIRT comprises a number of administrators from various departments and was formed to handle incidents of intolerance with consistency. Due to the location of the etchings, and the reasonable expectation of privacy associated with bathrooms and residence halls, Soufleris reported the University will not be installing video cameras. Instead, the administration is working with student organizations to develop a space for discussion and opportunities to build tolerance on campus.

Students at the debrief reported feeling shocked and disappointed by the incident, and many attendees noted their difficulty with the situation given the protests that took place this summer. Allen said, “I think La Salle has the capacity to be actively anti-racist…I want to hope the etchings are old. I tend to be an optimist when it comes to our student community.” Soufleris added that she is “confident in the community we have here.” Rush applauded RSA for responding to the incident, saying that similar efforts are normally led by marginalized students. She commended RSA’s demonstration of allyship and ownership of the community. The debrief was the first time RSA has hosted a debriefing event and led a discussion following an instance of hate. 

Everyone in attendance was encouraged to reflect on the ways hate speech in La Salle’s community impacts them. Many administrators, including Allen and Rush, invited students to reach out to them. Soufleris said she “would really like to listen, to hear [students] thoughts.” More information about future initiatives to address hate and intolerance can be found by contacting RSA at

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