It was an ordinary cram session, just past midnight, when the hate infiltrated students' phones. A racist manifesto, sent to a small clutch of people sitting at a Syracuse University library on Tuesday, warned of "the great replacement," a right-wing conspiracy theory that predicts white genocide at the hands of minority groups.
The manifesto was just the latest example of racist activity that has left the private university besieged, with officials confronted by student sit-ins, harsh critiques from the faculty and federal agents crawling the campus looking for hate-crime perpetrators.
New Zealand's Chief Censor has classified the manifesto "objectionable", which means anyone in this country who shares it is liable for a $10,000 fine or up to 14 years' jail.
The Syracuse incidents, which began less than two weeks ago, have included racist graffiti, swastikas and hate speech hurled at black and Asian students.
On Sunday, the university suspended all social activities at fraternities for the rest of the semester, after a group of students, including members of one fraternity, accosted a female African American student on Saturday night and used a racial slur.
But Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said on Tuesday that the university's response was not enough. He called on its board of trustees to hire an independent monitor to investigate, attacking the chancellor, Kent D. Syverud, and other officials for their reaction to the crisis.
"They have not been handled in a manner that reflects this state's aggressive opposition to such odious, reckless, reprehensible behaviour," the governor said of the racist incidents. "That these actions should happen on the campus of a leading New York university makes this situation even worse."
The sudden spasm of hate speech and racist vandalism has shattered the ordinary rituals of autumn, including basketball and bowl games, and left the campus of roughly 22,500 students frightened for both their safety and the reputation of the university itself.
"It's kind of hard to go to sleep after you find out something like that has taken place," said one student, Grace, a Latina who said she was afraid to give her surname because of anonymous threats made against students of colour in the past week.
On Tuesday, state and federal law enforcement officials descended on the university, just east of downtown, looking for evidence as to who had sent the manifesto, an anti-Muslim screed circulated by the suspect accused of a mass killing in March in New Zealand.
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The manifesto was first posted late Monday on an online forum geared to those interested in Greek life at Syracuse University, according to the city's police chief, and was then sent via a file-transfer service to the phones of several students who were inside Bird Library.
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In a midday news conference in Syracuse, the police chief, Kenton T. Buckner, said there was "no credible threat" associated with the manifesto, though both the State Police and the FBI were investigating. The university's public safety department doubled patrols around campus and residence halls.
Buckner said the dissemination of the manifesto was being investigated as a crime, as was an earlier incident in which a swastika was drawn in a patch of snow.
As news of the manifesto spread, at least one faculty member, Genevieve García de Müeller, who is Mexican and Jewish, reported a direct threat, received in her work email, calling her a Jewish slur and telling her to "get in the oven where you belong." She cancelled class for the day.
But university officials emphasised that the campus was open, and classes were taking place, despite the fear inspired by the manifesto and other incidents.
Bobby Maldonado, the chief of the public safety department, said this week that an anonymous Syracuse supporter was offering a US$50,000 ($77,000) reward for information leading to identifying who was responsible for the various racist incidents. The university, he said on Tuesday, "is really not immune from larger societal ills."
"But the people of this university, they love this university," Maldonado added.
According to university officials, the rash of incidents began on November 7, when graffiti targeting minority groups was discovered on two floors of Day Hall, a dorm. Since then, nearly a dozen other incidents have been reported.
Students and faculty members have been unhappy with the administration's response, which has prompted days of sit-ins at university buildings and a flood of online critiques, marked with the Twitter hashtag #NotAgainSU. On Monday, a group of 19 nonwhite faculty members wrote a letter to the editor in The Daily Orange, Syracuse's independent student newspaper, calling the university's response "inadequate."
Müeller, an assistant professor of writing and rhetoric, echoed that sentiment, saying the university had yet to fully respond to demands for more support for nonwhite students.
"I consistently see this narrative on campus that's trying to diminish what's happening," she said. "I don't see a plan, a very clear plan, for any sort of systemic change. And I think that needs to happen."
The Daily Orange said the manifesto that was distributed was the same 74-page document — titled "The Great Replacement" — that the accused mosque gunman allegedly shared via email minutes before the shootings began.
Buckner expressed sympathy for what the student body had been going through in recent weeks. "No student should have to go through that," he said. "No citizen should have to go through that."
Written by: Aaron Randle and Jesse McKinley
© 2019 THE NEW YORK TIMES