Exeter Student Targeted By Racial Epithet

Exeter police are currently investigating two incidents of targeted vandalism in the Phillips Exeter Academy community. On the morning of Wednesday, September 19, a racial epithet was found taped to the door of an African-American ninth-grade girl’s dorm room. The next day, someone had engraved a harsh expletive onto the door of a white girl’s room. Both incidents occurred in Langdell Hall, a girls’ dormitory of about 40 students from all grades. Exeter has yet to identify those behind the two occurrences of vandalism. Exeter is still working with town police to investigate the incident, according to Julie Quinn, Director of the Office of Communications at Exeter. It has not been determined if the events are connected. The school spoke to all dormitory proctors about the situation, educating them on how to deal with similar situations in the dorms. The African American students in the dorm where the event occurred were spoken with and offered support after the incident. The Afro-Latino Exonian Society (ALES) also met with the student who had been targeted. While ALES did acknowledge what had occurred, the issue was not discussed at its weekly meeting out of respect for the targeted student. Exeter held an all-school assembly to address the issue and sent home a letter to the parents of the 40 students in the dorm. At the meeting, the administration encouraged students involved in the incident to admit to the misdemeanor. “My first reaction was utter disbelief. [Racism] is pretty unprecedented,” said August Jones ’08, president of ALES. Jones said that the incident was a hateful act and not an act of bigotry because of the nature of the situation and the second etching. However, Jones said that he believed racism still exists at Exeter. “I am positive that there are people who come to this school with preconceived notions. This was a reminder of that,” he said. Though the school has not ruled out the possibility that the person at fault may be someone outside the Exeter community, students think this highly improbable, as the incidents are believed to have occurred in the middle of the night.