Speeches & Writings

A despicable act of vandalism

Dear Danforth Campus students, faculty and staff,  

Late last night we became aware of a despicable act of vandalism on the Danforth Campus. A small group of unknown individuals defaced portions of the beautiful “The Never-Ending Story” mural in the South 40 underpass, painting over the faces of prominent Black figures and adding the name and symbol of a known white supremacist group. This is horrifying and distressing. We’re shocked and saddened by this hateful act on our campus. 

We appreciate the many students who contacted us late last night after this happened. As soon as we learned of this incident, we began to mobilize to remove the white supremacist name and symbols from the mural and found that students had already worked quickly to cover them. WUPD immediately began an investigation. There are cameras in the area and we’re hopeful that we will be able to identify and hold these individuals responsible for their disgraceful actions. 

Let us say again, so there is absolutely no room for doubt: Washington University stands unequivocally against hate, bigotry, racism, xenophobia and discrimination in any form. There is no place on our campus for these behaviors and this type of harmful action will not be tolerated or ignored.

We realize this incident may cause many of you to feel hurt, frustrated and angry. We share those feelings and would encourage you to reach out for assistance if you are in need of support. Students can contact Habif Health and Wellness Center, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, or our new telehealth service TimelyCare, which has licensed physicians and counselors available 24/7 to help you. For faculty and staff, the Employee Assistance Program, Work-Life Solutions, is available, as well as the Academy for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which offers a range of support and resources for staff and faculty.

This incident is a painful reminder that we have a great deal of work to do – as a society and as a university community – to create and maintain an environment where all feel welcome, supported and safe. We remain committed to putting our values into action to help create needed change, both within ourselves as individuals, and collectively in our community, country and world. 

The mural has been a source of pride and inspiration for our university community, and we will not let this act of cowardice deter us from celebrating our rich cultural histories, especially the outstanding contributions of people who have led the way toward greater equity and understanding.


Andrew D. Martin

Shantay N. Bolton
Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Administrative Officer

Anna “Dr. G” Gonzalez
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Beverly Wendland
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs