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Hate speech in JP elevator causes security to be hired

One student complains that the extra security that was hired fell asleep on the job. ORACLE PHOTO/CHAVELI GUZMAN

Trashed elevators have been the usual sight for students living in Juniper-Poplar Hall (JP), but the sight of derogatory words written across walls and doors recently has sparked a sense of discomfort for residents in the hall. 

While the gum on the floor buttons and the food stuck on the roof is something students don’t want to see as they head toward their rooms, the offensive words written across the doors of the JP elevator have been the root cause of much anger. 

Tiffany Longsworth, a health science major living at JP, saw the hateful language and said she was disgusted. 

“It was 3 a.m. when I saw ‘f*** n******’ as the doors closed,” Longsworth said. “I remember being filled with rage over the fact that someone thought this was funny.” 

After seeing these two words written in big letters across the elevator doors, Longsworth called the help desk and then decided to post about the situation on her Facebook class page. On Facebook, she learned that other students living at JP have seen other instances of offensive language inside the elevators as well. 

“After posting the photo on the USF 2021 page, I learned that other remarks were written toward white people, Jewish people and the LGBTQ community,” Longsworth said.

Even though everything on the elevator got cleaned up quickly, Longsworth said she questions her safety in the place she calls home. 

“At USF, you would expect to feel safe,” Longsworth said. “For the first time, I did not.” 

According to an email from Adam Freeman, a spokesman for USF, the derogatory vandalism on the elevators is being discussed considering it is not the first time the incident has occured. 

“Over the past few weeks, there have been several instances of inappropriate language written on elevator walls inside Juniper Hall,” Freeman said. “These incidents include the use of profanity, terms that are sexual in nature, as well as offensive symbols.” 

Although there has been a series of vandalisms occuring, Freeman said no direct threats have been made. However, he assures that action is being taken on behalf of the issue. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, residential education staff asked for the presence of additional security in the building on a temporary basis,” Freeman said. 

According to Freeman, the additional security that’s mentioned is a security officer from the U.S. Security Associates who was brought in for six hours and was paid $20.64 per hour. The one day gig required the security officer to supervise the elevators and ensure that there was no other vandalism attempts.

While the implementation was meant to prevent another vandalism incident from happening, Longsworth and other students living at JP have conflicting thoughts concerning the matter. 

Francesca Bertoglio, an integrative biology student living in JP, said she saw the security guard, but isn’t sure what good he might do if he continues supervising. 

“I think he’s just there to intimidate,” Bertoglio said. “But I don’t know how effective he is in trying to catch people vandalising.” 

Despite Bertoglio not being too sure about the individual’s presence, Longsworth said the security officer’s job was ineffective.  

“I don’t see how he could stop anything that goes on inside the elevators considering he at outside and was dozed off every time I saw him,” Longsworth said. 

Though Longsworth doesn’t see the additional security as something that helped, one student has a slightly different look on the situation. 

James Simpson, a global business major living in JP, said the implementation was smart but it has its downsides if continued. Though he’s glad something was done about the issue, he’s not too sure about one person supervising every elevator if the additional security were to continue. 

“I think that was a good step toward a solution,” Simpson said. “But it’s really hard for him to monitor all the elevators especially because he can’t ride all of them.” 

Though it isn’t clear if the security guard will continue his duties, Freeman said discussion meetings have been organized. Due to the incident being deemed as a violation of Student Code Of Conduct, University Police (UP) are also involved in the issue. 

“UP is currently reviewing the incidents,” Freeman said. “The staff has also held meetings with residents to discuss the incidents.” 

Besides the additional security instituted temporarily, students also want to see an end to the trashing on elevators that’s included scattered cups, food and glitter on the floor. Lauren Burgess, an education major living in JP, is one of the students that thinks residents should stop the trashing. 

“I just know that when I get in the elevator everything is gross,” Burgess said. “I think people have been disrespectful in the place they live.”