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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Investigation into Al-Nur ice sculpture vandalism ongoing

Members of Al-Nur express dissatisfaction with the amount of institutional support they have received from College administration regarding the vandalism.

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According to previous reporting by The Dartmouth, an ice sculpture carved by members of the Muslim student association, Al-Nur, was vandalized and destroyed over the Winter Carnival weekend by an unnamed suspect. 

The sculpture was initially destroyed around 7 p.m. on Feb. 10, according to an op-ed written by three members of Al-Nur: Tuna Akmehmet ’26, Ramsey Alsheikh ’26 and Modaser Saeedi ’24. The sculpture was knocked off the stand and shattered into two pieces, according to Al-Nur co-president Aleemah Williams ’24.

Al-Nur members design an entry for the ice sculpture contest every year, according to Williams. Williams, who was not directly involved in making the sculpture, said that members decided to create a sculpture depicting the outline of Palestine with a Palestinian flag draped over the sculpture this year. According to Williams, the sculpture design was approved beforehand by the Winter Carnival Council. 

“[The students who designed the sculpture] wanted to show their support and solidarity for their heritage and people across the world who are oppressed right now,” Williams said. 

According to a photo of the sculpture obtained by The Dartmouth, the sculpture was titled “River 2 Sea.” 

Later that night, a second incident of vandalism occurred, and the sculpture and flag were found on the ground the next morning with a string of smaller Israeli flags around them, Williams said. Williams referred to the incidents as an “attack.” 

Williams added that the first incident was reported to Al-Nur by passers-by, and Al-Nur worked with Muslim chaplain Abdul Rahman Latif to report the vandalism to the Department of Safety and Security and the College administration.

According to previous reporting by The Dartmouth, Hanover Police Department Lieutenant Michael Schibuola wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth that DoSS notified HPD of the incident. Schibuola added in another email statement to The Dartmouth that HPD is “in the process of trying to interview all the involved parties and witnesses.”

“We are still requesting any witnesses or persons with knowledge regarding this case to please reach out to us,” Schibuola wrote.

DoSS director Keiselim Montás declined to comment.

In an email statement to The Dartmouth, College spokesperson Jana Barnello wrote that “Hanover police are aware of the incident and will make any determination with respect to criminal violations.”

Barnello wrote that the Dartmouth Equal Opportunity, Accessibility and Title IX Office and the Office of Community Standards and Accountability are “reviewing Dartmouth reports for violations of Dartmouth policy and the standards of conduct.”

“Any students suspected of violating Dartmouth policies or standards of conduct will be subject to the institutional disciplinary process,” Barnello wrote.

Dean of the College Scott Brown shared the news of the vandalism in a campus-wide email on Feb. 11. Brown wrote that “staff are reaching out to the affected students to offer resources and support.” 

Barnello also wrote that “deans and other staff are available to provide guidance and counseling, which includes spiritual counseling and other resources.”

However, Williams said that the administration did not reach out to Al-Nur students to offer support. 

“We didn’t really hear a response back,” Williams said. “The only response that everyone received was [Brown’s email]. The only information that we’ve gotten was through the chaplain.”

Palestine Solidarity Coalition member Paul Yang ’23 wrote in an email to The Dartmouth that the College did not reach out to “any students in Al-Nur” to offer support “despite the fact that members of Al-Nur are treating this as a hate crime.” The PSC was not affiliated with the creation of the ice sculpture.

Williams said that the administration’s response to the vandalism fits into a larger trend of failing to support students who experience Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian sentiment. She specifically pointed out that Brown’s campus-wide email did not mention the Israeli flags or characterize the vandalism as a hate crime. 

“The language that was used [in the campus-wide email] was very, very neutral,” Williams said. “They strictly called it an act of vandalism. [The vandalism] targeted these individuals [and] this ice sculpture because of [their] connection to identity.”

Yang also wrote that “the administration has refused to even mention Palestine or Palestinians,” even though “the vandalization was clearly directed against Palestinian students.”

Barnello wrote that “there is no place for hate and discrimination at Dartmouth,” and that the administration “is committed to maintaining our campus as a place of inclusion, belonging and respectful dialogue.”

Yang wrote that they feared that the lack of response from the administration could encourage more hate crimes in the future.

Williams cautioned against not holding people accountable for the vandalism and other Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian acts.

“The lack of consequences will cause people to feel comfortable to continue to act in a manner that … makes other people fear for their identities [and] safety,” Williams said.