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Latin language graffiti leads to accusations of hate crime, resignation of two student officers

The discovery of Latin (the language, not the demographic) graffiti at University of Southern Maine student government offices has led to a hate crime investigation, and caused two student senators to resign their positions.

The phrase “Deus Vult” — “God Wills It” — was utilized “as a rallying cry for Christians during the Crusades in medieval times,” and most recently by the so-called alt-right as an “anti-Muslim insult,” the Portland Press Herald reports.

USM President Glenn Cummings said his administration considers the incident a hate crime:

“I want you to know that addressing this is our highest priority. Our campus security is fully investigating what we believe to be a hate crime.

“A team from our Dean of Students is working hard to uncover the facts while providing opportunities for intergroup dialogue and supporting students directly and indirectly affected by this reprehensible act. Mostly, to our Muslim students I want to express how sorry I am this has happened. Please know that such actions affect all of us. This is not who USM is or wants to be.”

From the article:

According to USM’s student body president, Muhammad “Humza” Khan, a male student who is not part of student government drew the graffiti Tuesday afternoon, while two student Senate members were in the office. Khan, who declined to identify the student because of the investigation, said the two witnesses have said they didn’t understand the meaning of the phrase – which was written in small letters on an electrical wire cover on a wall, and on a wooden desk.

“I just wanted to say that all this happened a day after five Muslim/ (people of color) students asked for applications to Student Government to become Senators. I believe this act of criminal intimidation to be linked to that fact,” [USM student body Vice President Matt] Raymond wrote. …

MORE: Campus speech codes already ban ‘anti-Muslim’ speakers, CAIR argues

A group of about 40 students rallied in support of Muslim students at lunchtime Thursday. Raymond said he plans to ask the student Senate to vote out two members who he believes did not respond appropriately to the incident.

Raymond said one of the targeted senators wanted to clean up the graffiti and not report it, and the other senator was mocking the incident and criticizing Islam.

And Raymond got what he wanted: Senators Derrick Stanley and Benjamin Bussiere both resigned on Friday in “an emotional two-hour-plus meeting of the Student Senate.”

The perpetrator of the graffiti was not identified due to the ongoing investigation. School spokesman Bob Stein said the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office will review the campus PD report to determine if the vandal should face charges.

Read the full articles about the incident.

MORE: Columbia student op-ed: Islamophobia ‘facilitated’ Brussels terror attack

MORE: Prof ‘highlights’ Islamophobia with Nazi-era yellow Stars of David

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