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Lehigh University students rally against on-campus vandalism many are calling hate crime

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:08:29 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 06 2013 06:15:16 PM CST

Lehigh University investigating vandalism at diverse dorm

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

Officials at Lehigh University say a residence hall on campus was targeted by vandals.

According to Lehigh University President Alice Gast, eggs were thrown at the UMOJA House. Racial slurs were spray painted on the building and on staircases nearby.

IMAGES OF THE VANDALISM

Students are calling it a hate crime against those who live there.

In a press release, Gast called it a " cowardly and hateful act."

Students who live there are calling it a hate crime.

"Walls and windows were covered with yolk. In the back there was graffiti on the staircase to the entrance of the U-House," said Giancarlo Sanguinetti, a junior at Lehigh University and a resident of the UMOJA House.

Sanguinetti said some students stereotype the house as a residence meant for only one race.

"The "N" word might not apply to us. But the meaning behind it is they assume this is the house for a specific group of people, which is not the caseā€¦. This house, if anything, does not have a majority of African American students," Sanguinetti said.

According to Sanguinetti, the dormitory that houses 28 students is filled with a wide-variety of backgrounds. He said there are Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic and African American students living there.

Even though Sanguinetti is not black, he said the act of vandalism is hurtful and upsetting.

"Many of us couldn't sleep after that," Sanguinetti said.

Giancarlo Sanguinetti chose to live in the UMOJA House because he enjoys learning about other cultures.

"This house is supposed to symbolize unity," Sanguinetti said.

But Brenda Martinez, a junior at Lehigh University, said she chose not to live in the UMOJA House "because of the history there."

Sanguinetti believes the house has come to represent just the complete opposite of unity.

"Six years ago, around the same week.... A deer head was cut off and skinned and left in front of the house," Sanguinetti said.

In a press release, the University states it will seek prompt disciplinary and legal action once police determine who's responsible.

In the meantime, students are taking matters into their own hands, peacefully.

"We are trying to change the social climate," Sanguinetti said.

A unity rally is scheduled for 8 p.m. Wednesday at the flagpole on campus.

Anyone with information on who's behind the vandalism can anonymously contact police at (888) 924-4450 or by reporting information online.