By Kyra Lipetzky
Pass through the second floor of Prep Hall, and you may find a typed notice stating, “Sometime between 4:30 PM on Monday October 19 and 10 AM on October 21, someone removed the Black Lives Matter fist-symbol sticker from my office door.” This office door and the variety of meticulously taped papers posted over it belong to Dr. Melinda Farrington, assistant professor of communication.
With a surplus of full-page signs declaring “Black Lives Matter” as a backdrop, “Did you remove my BLM Sticker?” takes center stage on Farrington’s office door. The notice is framed as a letter directing four specific points toward whomever committed the act, whether individual or multiple.
The first item on the list asks if the sticker had been taken because the culprit might have wanted it for themselves. Farrington offers to purchase one for any such desperate individual. The second point says that the removal or defacement of something that does not belong to you is vandalism.
“That’s not the Bearcat way,” Farrington wrote.
Farrington aims to ground her concerns in Saint Vincent’s Benedictine heritage. She references the Benedictine Hallmark of Hospitality, which, she argues, creates an obligation to welcome the marginalized.
Although Farrington declined an interview, she’s not the only professor with controversial door decorations. Dr. Christopher McMahon, professor of theology, displays a “safe space” placard. It depicts two hands of different colors joining around a red heart. The reasoning behind the small card, McMahon said, is to create an environment where people feel valued and safe, where they can express their concerns.
McMahon thinks that faculty must be free to express viewpoints, though within limits.
“Faculty are free to express their commitment and concerns, so long as they keep with the mission of the College,” he explained.
Farrington is likewise concerned with giving undue offense. Her third points inquires whether the presumptive vandal might have felt offended.
“I believe humans have so much more in common than not,” she wrote, providing her email address and asking the individual to reach out. “I’d welcome the chance to talk together.”
Farrington concludes with a call to community.
“We. . . must remain steadfast. . . in an effort to build a society where all (you included!) are welcome,” she wrote.
“I think that all of our faculty want students to feel cared for,” he said.