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Anti-gay graffiti found in gender-neutral dormitory at Southern Oregon University

ASHLAND — Residents of Southern Oregon University's gender-neutral dorm found anti-gay graffiti scrawled across their hallway walls and doors early Thursday.

Ashland police believe the graffiti was intended to intimidate residents of the dorm, which began housing students in a mixed-gender environment this academic year.

"Whoever wrote it knew people there or at least knew the names of some of the residents, because it was directed specifically by first names," said Sgt. Jim Alderman with the Ashland Police Department. "A lot of the students do have their names on their doors."

Police have no suspects in the case, Alderman said.

The graffiti included "derogatory remarks about people's gender and sexuality," but did not include any threats, he said. It was written in blue ink on the hallway walls and doors of the two gender-neutral floors, he said.

Police believe the graffiti was scrawled on the building between 11:45 p.m. Wednesday and 12:30 a.m. Thursday, Alderman said. There were no witnesses, he said.

The defamatory messages were discovered at about 1 a.m. Thursday and soon after, SOU campus public safety officials contacted Ashland police because of the seriousness of the crime, Alderman said.

"Because of the nature of the graffiti and where it occurred on campus, in this one dorm area, it becomes an intimidation," he said. "It makes it a more serious crime than just graffiti or criminal mischief."

Police estimate the graffiti caused $150 in damages, Alderman said.

The gender-neutral dorm includes residents who don't identify with their biological gender, men and women who want to live together or people who are simply more comfortable living in a mixed-gender environment, according to the university.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Ashland Police Department at 541-482-5211.

Hannah Guzik is a reporter at the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.