Syracuse University students protest after series of racist incidents reported on campus

Students staged a sit-in protest at the Barnes Center at the Arch on the Syracuse University campus

(CNN)A series of racist incidents on Syracuse University's campus in New York over the past 10 days has spurred police investigations and led to student protests.

Two of the latest incidents were reported Saturday, according to a release from the university's Department of Public Safety (DPS). The first was graffiti of a swastika found at Haven Hall that DPS said was quickly removed.
The second was a report from a student at Sadler Hall that another student was yelling "a racial epithet that is derogatory to African Americans." DPS is working to identify the student, the release said. DPS said it is aware of a "hateful email being directed to several members of our community."
"That email has been forwarded to the Syracuse Police Department and they have initiated an investigation," the release said.
    Three separate incidents of racist graffiti about African Americans and Asians have been reported since November 7, according to Sara Scalese, the senior associate vice president for communications at Syracuse University.
    Scalese did not say whether investigators believe the any of the incidents are related.
    The first incident, reported November 7, featured graffiti disparaging the African-American and Asian communities. It was found on the fourth and sixth floors of Day Hall, a student dormitory, according to Scalese.
    The second incident, reported on Wednesday, featured graffiti derogatory toward the Asian community and was found in a bathroom in the physics building. More graffiti that disparaged the Asian community was found in Day Hall on Thursday.
    Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement after the first incident, directing the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force and the state division of human rights to assist in an investigation.
    "I'm disgusted by the recent rash of hateful language found scrawled on the walls at Syracuse University, where students from around the world are drawn each year in the pursuit of higher learning," Cuomo said in the statement. "These types of hateful and bigoted actions seek to splinter and segregate our communities, and they have no place in New York — period."
    The three active investigations are led by the university's Department of Public Safety with help from the Syracuse Police Department and state police. Neither department was able to confirm what the perpetrators will be charged with if caught.

    A delayed university response prompts protest

    In a statement issued Tuesday, following the first incident, university Chancellor Kent Syverud expressed serious concern over the vandalism at Day Hall.
    "First, I want to speak to the university's response to this incident. It's clear that the members of the leadership team should have communicated more swiftly and broadly," said Syverud, referencing the university's delay in notifying the Syracuse community of the incident. "I am disappointed that didn't happen in this case."
    Notes at the sit-in feature the hashtag used by the protesters.
    Syverud said university officials are meeting with students "directly impacted" by the incident to offer their support.
    Students staged a sit-in Wednesday at the Barnes Center at the Arch in response to last week's incident, according to Scalese.
    Sophomore Zoe Selesi, who is participating in the ongoing sit-in, told CNN the incidents left her feeling "unsafe, frustrated and tired." Selesi estimated that approximately 300 students were at the Barnes Center at the peak of the protest. Many of them found out about the first incident on social media on Sunday, three days after it was reported to university authorities.