Woman Arrested Over ‘Pro-Protester' Graffiti at Syracuse University as Tensions Grow Over Bias Incidents

Students have staged a sit-in at the Syracuse student wellness center since Nov. 13 with a list of demands over the recent spate of bias incidents

What to Know

  • An arrest has been made after a series of new graffiti markings were discovered on the Syracuse University campus Wednesday
  • The woman allegedly responsible did the markings in support of campus protests over a string of recent racist episodes
  • The incidents have shaken the upstate New York campus, and students have been waging a sit-in to demand action

Police at Syracuse University have made an arrest after a series of new graffiti markings were discovered on campus -- but authorities say the woman taken into custody made them in support of ongoing school protests over a spate of recent bias incidents, law enforcement and school officials said Thursday. 

The suspect has been identified as 18-year-old Kym McGowan. Police identified her through surveillance video in connection with four cases of graffiti found in and around the Irving Garage and Bird Library a day earlier. The content of those markings wasn't immediately clear, but police describe her graffiti as "pro-protester." She was charged with criminal mischief and making graffiti, both misdemeanors, and has been released. Attorney information wasn't clear. 

There have been a dozen instances of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti appearing on or near campus in recent weeks, according to Chancellor Kent Syverud. Some of the graffiti used derogatory language about black people, at least one referenced Native Americans and another degraded the Asian community. 

Authorities also have fielded reports of shouted slurs targeting Jews, Asians and black students at the private university of nearly 23,000 students. About 8 percent are Latino, 7 percent are black and 6 percent are Asian, according to the university website.

The campus was on edge again Wednesday over reports a white supremacist manifesto had been sent to some students' cellphones, but Syverud said that appeared to have been a hoax. He also acknowledged the school had fallen short in responding to the string of other racist incidents recently reported.

Following a meeting with students on Wednesday, where many of them stormed out and called for the chancellor's resignation, Syverud released a statement saying he has agreed to 16 of 19 recommendations made by student protesters.

"I have suggested minor revisions to the other three for them to consider. These revisions are required to comply with law or because of the need for Board of Trustees approval," Syverud said.

The chancellor also said he would meet with Jewish students Thursday to discuss the matter further.

Students have staged a sit-in at the Syracuse student wellness center since Nov. 13 with a list of demands that includes the expulsion of students for hate crimes and stronger diversity training for students and staff.

The university's international students also have listed concerns, and about 100 law and medical students marched Wednesday to show support for the wellness center protesters, according to

Syverud said the university was making improvements, among them ensuring it's prepared to handle problems at any time of day.

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