New Haven, CT — October 2014
When Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway penned an Oct. 13 email to students about swastikas found chalked onto a campus sidewalk, he implored students to stand together as a community. “There is no room for hate in this house,” Holloway wrote.
Yale senior Javier Cienfuegos and friends took those words to heart and turned the graffiti’s message completely on its head, creating a powerful mural communicating support for Jewish students and diversity in the Ivy League school’s community.
Though school officials had the swastikas mostly scrubbed from the sidewalk by Oct. 13, some faint outlines remained. So Cienfuegos and fraternity brothers William Genova and Sebastian Medina-Tayac set to work that night outside the freshman residence hall where the graffiti had been drawn, washing away the remaining outlines with dish soap and Lysol.
Word of their effort spread via a Facebook post by Cienfuegos.
Soon, a large group was covering the sidewalk with words of love and support. Hearts, peace signs and Stars of David dotted the pavement. At their center was the blue Yale “Y” and Holloway’s words from the email in big bubble letters: “There’s no room for H8 in this house.”
“I think it was my way of telling people that I don’t care if it was an idiotic prank or a hoax, this kind of thing isn’t okay on my campus,” Cienfuegos told The Huffington Post.
“It shows how much Yalies appreciate the diversity that this campus has,” Genova said of the effort. “At the end of the day, Yale really celebrates that, and students really come together. We don’t just respect it, we encourage it, and we thrive off this.”
He says that as the re-chalking of the sidewalk stretched into early morning, as many as 75 students came and added to the mural. According to Cienfuegos, so many people joined in that they had to get more chalk midway through.
“Our community felt a contagious wave of love, and it swept across the entirety of Durfee’s walkway,” wrote Cienfuegos in a Facebook post about the finished mural. “We will turn their hate into love, and we invite all Yalies, whoever you are, to join our crusade.”
Check out more photos of the students’ powerful mural below.
– Cate Matthews
This article originally appeared on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/