Dean of Harvard College Evelynn
Hammonds announced on Monday that 36 books related to gay and lesbian
studies were damaged by accident, not vandalism, as earlier reported.
The books, which deal with topics such
as gay marriage, were reportedly damaged with urine in the school's
Lamont Library on November 24.
The Harvard University Police
Department (HUPD) initially said it was investigating the incident as
a hate crime.
“The HUPD has zero tolerance for any
bias-related incidents or crimes,” HUPD spokesman Steven G.
the university's paper, The Crimson.
Hammonds also wrote to the paper
decrying the incident: “Harvard College will not tolerate acts of
vandalism, especially that appear to be motivated by hate or bias.
[As] a community, we will continue to affirm our shared values of
dignity and respect for everyone in our community.”
In a statement released on Monday, the
dean said the incident was merely an accident.
“This incident was initially reported
as vandalism and characterized as a hate-crime because of the focused
nature and related topics of the damaged books,” she said. “HUPD
has continued to investigate this incident since the initial report
and we have learned this morning that the books, while indeed
damaged, were damaged by our own library personnel accidentally
spilling a bottle of what was reported to be urine that had been left
on the shelf.”
Hammonds announced that university
police were no longer classifying the incident as a hate crime and
that the library was in the process of replacing the books.
Gay activists on campus, however, still
have unanswered questions.
“Why was there a bottle of urine on
the shelf? Why did it take two weeks for [the] library or HUPD to
figure out that this was just an accident? Did someone suddenly come
forward?” Marco Chan, the co-chair of Harvard College Queer
Students and Allies, told the student-run paper.