A police investigation is underway after a university was daubed with offensive slogans
Swastikas and offensive wording, including "no Pakis", were sprayed on a number of buildings at Staffordshire University's Leek Road and College Road campuses at roughly 2am yesterday. Once spotted, maintenance staff were dispatched to clean up the graffiti. However, the incident has left students upset, with many saying they wouldn't recommend Stoke-on-Trent as a suitable destination to come and study.
Charlotte McKenzie, aged 20, came to the university from Nottingham. The broadcast journalism student said: "The graffiti is disgusting. I came to Stoke-on-Trent already aware of the high number of BNP councillors, but gave it a chance. This sort of thing makes me not want to be here anymore, or recommend it to my friends. I have experienced racism during my time here, whether it is sly remarks or innuendos."
Rochelle Owusu, aged 18, is originally from North London. The law and journalism student said: "I cannot believe something like this has happened at the place I chose to come to study. I'm only in my first year and I didn't sign up to deal with this sort of thing. This is somewhere we should feel safe."
The incident has been linked by some to the imminent university elections where current students' union president Assed Baig is fighting to hold on to his position. The 28-year-old is facing the polls after a group of students moved for a vote of no confidence. Mr Baig has been heavily involved in protests against the BNP and in the recent English Defence League demonstration in Hanley. He also made headlines last year after posting an article on the union website, containing a link to a site identifying 30 BNP members living within two miles of the university's Stoke campus.
Mr Baig, who has Pakistani parents, believes the attack was a message to him.
"I have no idea who has done this, but when they write "no Pakis" outside the entrance to my work, I feel it is aimed at me, especially with the election approaching," he said. "I cannot understand why somebody would do this, it makes me sick to my stomach."
Gary McNally, aged 24, is chairman of the Students' Union Council. The modern and international history student, who moved to the Potteries from Newbury, said: "I think it's disgusting that people are trying to intimidate students. We need to bring the community together, from all religions, to fight this. This sort of thing really puts people off studying here."
A spokesman for the university said: "We wish to send a strong and clear message to say we do not tolerate racist behaviour in any form on our campuses. Our campuses are covered by CCTV and regular night patrols and we will be fully co-operating with police."
A police spokesman added: "We are working with the university and students' union. CCTV footage is being checked."
Witnesses are asked to call PC Keith Emery on 0300 123 4455.