Swastika found in Jefferson Hall elevator reflects a nationwide trend
By KELLY EMMRICH
Scrawled on walls, marked in snow, taped to a ceiling, swastikas are appearing on college campuses across the nation.
On Sept. 5, a swastika was found carved into an elevator wall at Georgetown University. The next day, two swastikas were painted in an elevator. On the same day, fliers for a white supremacist organization were found at Webster University, just outside St. Louis. At Bowdoin College in Maine, a drawing of a swastika, male genitalia and profanity including the word “KKK” was found.
On Aug. 31, a student found a swastika drawn on the doors of the elevator in Jefferson Hall. Once the residence staff was made aware of the swastika, they released a statement to the residents of Jefferson Hall.
“The Office of Residence Life and the University of Mary Washington do not tolerate such acts of bias and/or hate that violate our Principles and Values,” wrote David Fleming, assistant dean for Residence Life and Housing.
Such events are becoming commonplace. Although the incidents have not been connected, the Anti-Defamation League, which was created in 1913 to “protect the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all,” says the white supremacist group, Identity Evropa, whose fliers were found in 65 incidents on college campuses last year, is ramping up its “Project Siege” campaign, “targeting campuses just as students arrive for the fall term.”
The University of Mary Washington is no different.
The campus police and detective Brad Sullivan have been investigating and monitoring the campus for other acts of vandalism.
According to the ADL, Identity Evropa has been emboldened and revitalized by the events that occurred in Charlottesville last month, white supremacists clashed with counter protesters ahead of a rally surrounding the planned removal of a Confederate statue.
The group’s fliers have already appeared on a dozen college campuses in the first few weeks the fall semester. According to Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, “they [Identity Evropa] know they’re going to get a reaction when they show up on campus. Fortunately their message is near-universally rejected by students and faculty.”
UMW President Troy Paino sent a message to students before the start of the academic year, referencing the incident and calling for unity.
“Add my voice to the chorus of those from around the country who have denounced the hatred, bigotry, racism, and senseless acts of violence visited upon Charlottesville,” wrote Paino. “The acts of these white supremacists remind us of the important work we must continue to do to build and sustain a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming campus community.”
The overall tone on the UMW campus has been open and supportive of one another. Following the swastika note found last spring on the bulletin board in front of Madison Hall (UMW’s gender neutral housing), UMW United, was created. The club’s intention is to promote an open and supportive dialogue about controversial topics.
“Here at the University of Mary Washington, our core principles of equal opportunity and diversity are not only practiced but celebrated,” wrote UMW United in a statement following the Charlottesville incident. “We, as a community, do not condone this behavior of discrimination or violence.”
If you see anything suspicious or have any information regarding the incident, contact Detective Brad Sullivan at the University Police Department at (540) 654-1025. Bias incidents can also be reported anonymously http://www.umw.edu/concerns/.