Faculty finds offensive slurs outside UB instructor’s office

University Police currently investigating possible bias crime


University Police is currently investigating offensive slurs written on a UB instructor’s office.

Peter Clavin’s office on the 10th floor of Clemens Hall was defaced last week with homophobic and profane remarks. Clavin is a teaching assistant and an instructor for an African American Studies class: Hip Hop and Social Issues. The slurs were specifically aimed at Clavin and included his name. The remarks were written in yellow chalk and were removed last week after Deborah Pierce-Tate, assistant to the Transitional Studies chair, discovered them.

Pierce-Tate called UPD immediately after discovering the slurs.

There are currently no known suspects for the incident, according to Deputy Chief of Police Joshua Sticht. He said UPD is currently trying to meet with Clavin to further the investigation.

“I have no idea who [did this]” Clavin said. “I mean I could probably think of four or five people but it would be totally baseless.”

Clavin believes the incident occurred sometime during Labor Day Weekend.

He was puzzled as to why his office was targeted with homophobic slurs, rather than racial ones.

“They didn’t say you’re racist or you’re a race trader or [anything],” Clavin said. “They used very sexualized terms.”

Clavin had a cartoon of black poet Amiri Baraka taped to his office door, which was ripped and thrown on the ground.

He said he was surprised this incident occurred so early in the semester.

He said before the add/drop date, he keeps his “bold critiques” to himself. After the first week of class, he usually “unleashes” a critique of American society and he would understand if this occurred later in the semester as a response to those critiques.

“I’m pro-Black Lives Matter, so of course there’s a contingent of white people that feel it’s a hate group and all that so I would imagine it was somebody like that but then again it could just be somebody who’s a homophobe, I don’t know,” Clavin said.

Pierce-Tate said the university’s “open door policy” could mean that anyone can come in and vandalize school property.

“I'm thankful that [the slurs were] in chalk, it could’ve been worse than that,” Piece-Tate said. “This was a minor incident but just think about what might happen.”

“The university will respond promptly to protect the safety and well-being of the entire university community,” according to a statement from the university. “Diversity, inclusion and mutual respect are strongly held values of our university.”

Sticht said UPD believes this is an isolated incident that does not pose an immediate threat to the campus.

“From my experience something like this when someone writes a message anonymously, [is] usually done by someone who’s upset about something but is usually not going to act out on it,” Sticht said.

Sticht said he does not remember a situation when graffiti led to an act of violence.

This isn’t the first incident in which a member of the faculty has discovered slurs on campus.

Anti-Semitic slurs were found on a men’s restroom stall in Capen Hall in March. UPD responded by increasing patrol at on-campus Jewish organizations.

UB released a statement in December 2015, which stated “racist and discriminatory behaviors or conduct have no place at the University at Buffalo and will not be tolerated.”

“It’s not that I’m scared but I’m definitely put on guard more than I ever was,” Clavin said.

Ashley Inkumsah is the co-senior news editor and can be reached at ashley.inkumsah@ubspectrum.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AshleyInkumsah.