MERCED -- Several messages scribbled on white boards in a dorm at the University of California at Merced prompted administrators to issue a stern campuswide e-mail Tuesday, warning students that hateful speech won't be tolerated on campus.
However, they felt the inci-dent wasn't considered serious enough for criminal charges.
University of California at Merced Chancellor Steve Kang and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Keith Alley sent the e-mail after a small group of students wrote messages and drew suggestive pictures on 74 of the 100 white boards hanging outside dorm rooms in the school's Tuolumne Hall, according to Police Chief Rita Spaur.
Spaur said an investigation determined that at least three freshmen were responsible for the incident, which occurred around 4:30 a.m. Sunday and was reported by a residence hall staff member. Spaur said one message contained a slur against gays while another contained a racial epithet.
Spaur said no property was damaged or destroyed. She said the incident was basically a prank by a small group that got out of hand. Spaur said police interviews with the students determined that the language was not meant to be threatening or hateful toward any particular group or students at the school.
Spaur called the incident an opportunity to address the issue of tolerance and diversity.
"With a community, you always have emotions toward insensitive communication," she said. "So I would imagine there are people on campus who were taken aback by the irresponsible behavior and decision making of the students who did this."
Still, the e-mail sent by Alley and Kang didn't mince words.
"This act of vandalism not only demonstrated a lack of respect for the campus' physical space, but more importantly, a lack of respect for principles that are core to our university," the e-mail stated.
Spaur said the police report on the incident will be forwarded to UC Merced's Office of Housing and Residence Life to determine if the students will face penalties.