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Western student arrested in connection with bigoted graffiti charged with second-degree burglary

By Julia Furukawa and Julia Berkman


A Western student arrested in connection with recent racist and bigoted vandalism on campus was charged with second-degree burglary on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

The suspect, 20-year-old Shayne Merwin of Gold Bar, was arrested on Sunday, Nov. 25 by University Police and booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of residential burglary and malicious mischief, according to a WWU Campus Advisory sent out Monday, Nov. 26. A resident of Birnam Wood, Merwin was trespassed from all university housing and dining halls, according to the advisory.

On Nov. 19, nine name tags in Nash Hall were defaced with racist and homophobic language, as well as a threat of sexual violence, according to the advisory. The following day, a racial epithet was written on the “Wright’s Triangle” art installation near the Ross Engineering Building and on a poster outside Arntzen Hall, the advisory reads. The messages are believed to be part of one continuous incident, but have all since been removed according to the advisory.

In a campus-wide email sent out on Nov. 19, President Sabah Randhawa condemned the vandalism.

“I want to be absolutely clear: hate has absolutely no place on our campus.”

Merwin was heard in Whatcom County Superior Court on Monday, Nov. 26. With no prior charges filed against him in Whatcom County, Merwin was released on personal recognizance, and so will remain out of custody with a contractual agreement to reappear in court at his next date.

According to Deputy Prosecutor Erik Sigmar, on Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 27, the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office charged Merwin with second-degree burglary. This a class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years confinement and a $25,000 fine, according to state law. Washington state law defines second-degree burglary as entering or remaining in a building unlawfully with the intent to commit a crime against a person or property there.

Merwin’s arraignment is set for Dec. 7, at 9 a.m. at the Whatcom County Courthouse.



  1. Further update of today’s Walk Out:

    What: Protest of university’s inaction regarding the racist, sexual assault, and homophobic vandal, Shayne Merwin.
    Where: Old Main 450,
    When: Today! now! 3/12/2018, 2pm-ongoing
    Details: Walk-out / Sit-in to continue until Shayne Merwin is suspended! Overnight sit-in planned. Supplies needed, including food, pillows and blankets. School officials threatened to call the cops earlier. Officials are giving the students shifting stories on where the president is.

    • The Western Front is looking into this. This was not specified in the advisory nor during Merwin’s court appearance.

    • Update: A campus-wide email from President Sabah Randhawa sent out on Monday, Dec. 3 stated: “As interim measures, the student, a resident of Western’s Birnam Wood apartment community on campus, was trespassed from all university housing and dining halls, and can only be on campus to attend classes or scheduled appointments.”


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