Admissions Office, Res Life handles graffiti aftermath

Residential Life has deferred all questions regarding the graffiti incident to the MU News Bureau.

In the wake of Saturday's racially-offensive graffiti message, The Office of Admissions is focusing on maintaining MU’s reputation as a campus that promotes diversity, Director of Admissions Barbara Rupp said in an e-mail.

“Most of our students and prospective students realize that this, like the awful cotton ball incident, was completely unacceptable behavior on the part of a very small minority of students,” Rupp said. “In general, the vast majority of our students, staff and faculty embrace the growing diversity on campus.”

Despite last year’s cotton ball incident, minority enrollment increased this year. Rupp said this was due to MU’s prevailing image as a diverse learning environment.

“We hope that prospective students and their families will judge the atmosphere and openness to diversity of our campus of 31,000 students by what they personally see and witness, rather than the abhorrent actions of one or even a handful of students,” Rupp said.

Residential Life Director Frankie Minor said the incident was in complete contradiction with the university’s values and that Residential Life is working to continue promoting diversity in the face of the incident.

“This incident was an affront to the entire campus and the institutional values which are inscribed in bronze on the Francis Quadrangle,” Minor said. “The staff of Residential Life supports efforts of students and institutional leaders to make the campus, and its residence halls and apartments, inclusive and welcoming environments for all members of our community.”

Despite the Hatch incident making headlines, as the cotton ball incident did a year ago, Rupp said MU is still a diverse environment.

“Mizzou in 2011 is a vibrant academic community that embraces students from multiple cultures, countries and ethnicities,” Rupp said.

Res Life phones went unanswered as the university worked to sort out the aftermath of the racially-charged vandalism discovered Saturday.

All media inquiries regarding the incident were deferred to the MU News Bureau, Minor said.

“This was not a Res Life incident, but one that affected the entire campus, so it was appropriate to refer it to the office that represents the university to the media, i.e. the News Bureau,” Minor said in an e-mail.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said the News Bureau handles media inquires so staff members can fully commit to handling emergency situations.

“Whether it is an emergency situation or a situation that is requiring a staff member’s full attention, we serve as spokesperson so that they are able to fulfill their duties and complete their job, and we are able to get the information to the media in as timely a manner as possible,” Basi said.

Basi said the News Bureau tries to link the media with the direct, relevant sources for inquiries.

“During non-emergency or non-urgent situations, we always try to connect media with the best source on campus for their stories,” he said.

Minor said responding to the incident was a higher priority for Residential Life than fielding the media’s questions.

“Given that this was a rapidly evolving incident, our attention was focused on responding to the incident, and not to the media, which the News Bureau was better prepared to do,” Minor said.

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