SHAFAQNA – Etched on the walls of a bathroom stall on Monday in one of Virginia Tech’s buildings are the words: “I will be here 11/11/2015 to kill all Muslims,” according to the Virginia Tech Police Department.
Virginia Tech students did not hear about the threat to Muslims until Thursday afternoon according to Tanushri Shankar, president of the Student Government Association at Virginia Tech, when an email alert was sent to students, staff and faculty titled “Situational Awareness – Seeking Assistance.” The email alert stated the following:
On Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, Virginia Tech Police Department received a report concerning graffiti that had been left inside a bathroom stall in Price Hall. The graffiti stated “I will be here 11/11/2015 to kill all muslims (sic).” The Virginia Tech Police Department continues to investigate this matter. We are making the community aware of this graffiti and seeking the community’s assistance.
Shankar, who posted a screenshot of the email to her Facebook page, tells USA TODAY College that her “heart aches. It aches for the students being chastised for their religion. It aches for the university that so desperately needs a change. But mostly, my heart aches for the fact that this email didn’t surprise me that much.”
Obaid Rehman, president of the Muslim Students Association at Virginia Tech, tells USA TODAY College it’s imperative to take this time to “stand against this type of rhetoric, this type of thinking” to change the overall discourse of the situation.
“Islamophobia is being normalized, and we must speak out against it. … This is a critical moment in which we can all let each other know that yes, we area all different, yes, we have different backgrounds, yes, we might be from different ethnicities, yes I may totally disagree with you, but I will still respect you as a fellow human being, and I will stand up for you because it’s the right thing to do,” Rehman says.
In light of this threat, the Muslim Students Association at Virginia Tech launched an awareness campaign Thursday that included the distribution of cookies to students studying in the library in order to “extinguish ignorance with love,” according to Rehman. The hashtags “WeStandTogether” and “HokiesDontHate” are being used in conjunction with the campaign.
“If we do not stand up, here and now, then when will we? It’s important we all make the conscious effort in order to understand each other and have respect and truly be part of a united community. If we want a truly united nation, we must start at the local community level,” Rehman says.
Daniel Mun, a junior studying management at Virginia Tech, tells USA TODAY College that he is outraged by and disappointed in the incident. But the action of a single person, he says, should not define the student body as a whole.