By Ellen Wulfhorst
(Reuters) – Connecticut College canceled all classes on Monday to hold a campus-wide “conversation” about racism and other issues after an offensive posting was found on a professor’s Facebook page and racist graffiti was discovered in a restroom, officials said.
The incidents prompted the need for a day of counseling, reflection and discussion among students, faculty and administrators, the school said on its website.
“The Connecticut College community is currently engaged in an ongoing campuswide conversation about racism, equity and inclusion,” it said, announcing that all classes were canceled for the day.
Racist graffiti was found in a restroom in a campus student center, President Katherine Bergeron said in a letter to students.
Earlier this month, she said, derogatory comments about Gaza were found on the Facebook page of a Connecticut College professor.
“We must take action immediately to expose and eradicate this ignorance and hatred,” she said.
“Even though speech may be protected does not mean that we have to approve of the odious things that people choose to say with their freedom,” she said.
Other school figures wrote in support of the community’s response on the website, including the senior class president who wrote “it’s apparent that this community is fragmented” and a broad array of professors denouncing hate-filled speech and bigotry.
About 1,900 students attend the private liberal arts college in New London, Connecticut.
The move comes after two fraternity brothers were caught on video chanting a racist song earlier this month at the University of Oklahoma. The two were expelled and the fraternity house was shut down.
Also this month, a fraternity at Penn State was suspended, accused of posting pictures online that members took of mostly undressed women passed out or sleeping.
Connecticut College does not have a fraternity or sorority system.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Alan Crosby)