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Fox Chapel Area High School '93 Pittsburgh, PA African American residents of W.E.B. DuBois College House and Jewish students living in Cleeman, a dormitory in the Community House section of the Quadrangle, found common ground in the experience of harassment this year. Students were the target of harassing phone calls and bomb threats in DuBois, and students found swastikas taped to a fire door in Cleeman. On the University's campus, where the issues of student self-segregation, free speech and civility arouse strong feelings, such demonstrations of hatred and intolerance indicate the existence of racial tensions, but not pervasive racism, according to visiting Sociology Professor Paul Root Wolpe. "There is an enormous focus on identities which divide us, rather than commonalities which unite us," the University alumnus said. "You're always going to have people who exploit that climate to express their own biases." In a series of events which outraged the University community last October, anonymous bomb threats and racially-motivated harassing phone calls were received at DuBois, forcing an evacuation of the building. "We consider this extremely serious, and we've taken steps to increase the structural and personal safety of the people in the dorm," University Police Commissioner John Kuprevich said at the time. These steps included a "short-term" ban on non-residents in the building, unless signed in by a resident, a policy instituted by DuBois House staff. However, this procedure remained in effect through the fall and spring semesters. College senior Nicole Brittingham, former editor-in-chief of the African American campus newspaper The Vision, characterized the calls as "scary," saying they made campus feel "very threatening." After the first threats were phoned into DuBois, students living in Stouffer College House, Van Pelt College House, Graduate Tower A and an off-campus house at 40th and Locust streets also received harassing calls. Call recipients urged students, regardless of race, to stand together in opposition to the incidents. The perpetrators, however, were not caught. In late March, two DuBois residents were again victims of anonymous calls threatening that "the niggers are going to die tonight." At about the same time, signs saying "The Jewish God Eats Human Shit" and paper swastikas appeared repeatedly, taped to a fire door in Cleeman in the Quad. Community House residents were nauseated and disturbed by the discoveries, which were followed by bomb threats to both Hillel and Lubavitch House. "It makes students more insecure because they have no idea where the threats are coming from," said Nursing freshman Bonnie Sherman. "You should be able to feel safe where you live," agreed Wharton senior Dave Schlosser, the resident advisor on duty during the incidents. Black Student League President Robyn Kent, a College junior, characterized the appearance of swastikas in the Quad as "disheartening and tragic." "It's as if nothing was learned from October," she said. "I see the two incidents as being related. It just goes to show that Penn isn't immune to what goes on in the larger society." Rabbi Howard Alpert, executive director of Penn Hillel, said the harassment did not affect the daily lives of Jewish students on campus. Nevertheless, Interim Director of Victim Support Barbara Cassel urged the University community to respond in a unified manner. Wolpe dismissed the idea that mandatory racial sensitivity classes would prevent future harassing behavior. "Racial tolerance grows through daily interaction and honest dialogue," he said. Acting Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum encouraged this type of dialogue about the episodes which affected the campus this year, despite its paradoxical effect. "It both builds and breaks the ties between people," she said. "That's the sad thing."

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