Door of senator vandalized

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April 4, 2008

2:57 AM

Between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, the dorm room door of Sen. Joe Luppino-Esposito ’08 was covered in shaving cream, and copies of The Virginia Informer were taped across the doorway.

Luppino-Esposito is a graduating senator in the Student Assembly and the co-founder of The Virginia Informer, a conservative publication on campus.

Luppino-Esposito said that he heard a gushing noise outside his door as he was about to go to bed and, thinking that someone had turned the water on in the maintenance closet across from his room, went out to turn it off.

“I opened the door, and there were newspapers over my head,” Luppino-Esposito said.

Luppino-Esposito said that he believes the incident to be politically motivated and done by supporters of former President Gene Nichol, citing the symbol of a campus group called Spades that had been left above his door. The group stretched a pro-Nichol banner across the Crim Dell bridge after Nichol’s resignation.
Luppino-Esposito said that April Fool’s Day did not excuse the incident.

“If someone had done an April Fool’s joke to offend someone’s race or religion on [the] other side, I don’t think we’d be looking at the date,” he said.

The College said that it is investigating the matter. Brian Whitson of University Relations said that the College istaking the incident seriously but that it is currently unknown whether the incident is “a college prank or something more directed.”

There was no permanent damage to the door.

Both the Young Democrats and the College Republicans have condemned the incident.

College Republicans President Stephen Salvato ’10 said that discrimination against conservative students on campus was common.

“It ends up being the conservative student on campus who is the victim of such types of intolerance,” Salvato said.

He added that although other groups are also discriminated against, he has personally seen this discrimination toward conservative groups of which he is a part.

According to Salvato, Students for Life had their flyers vandalized so much that they met with Nichol to discuss the situation.

“Needless to say, little has been done,” Salvato added. Luppito-Esposito also cited an incident from early 2006 in which a girl distributing pro-life literature at a rally was hit in the face as an example of discrimination against conservatives.

In a press release Tuesday, Luppino-Esposito called on the College to provide a “safe haven” for conservatives from “radicals who want to silence them.”

Whitson expressed concern, but said the College was generally welcoming.

“We certainly would be concerned if any students felt they could not express themselves freely or felt intimidated for exercising their rights to free speech,” he wrote in an e-mail. “That being said, I think [the] overwhelming majority of this campus community understands and values the importance of these freedoms.”

Luppino-Esposito said that he will be filing criminal charges; if the College deems it a “bias incident,” he plans to file under that as well.

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