Swastikas and other anti-Semitic markings were carved into several doors of Chestnut Hall during the weekend, the University announced in an email on Sunday.
Vice President of University Relations, Joe Cardona, said that there was no indication that any individual students had been targeted by the graffiti. No Jewish residents currently live in the rooms which had their doors marked with the Nazi symbol, or in the adjacent hallway.
The incident was reported by a friend of a student living in the hall who was visiting the university. A hall meeting was held as soon as the building’s resident director was notified.
“In an effort to acknowledge the negative impact that such an incident can have on the community, a floor meeting was held in the suite to inform residents of the bias related incident and offer them an opportunity to voice their thoughts and feelings,” Dean of Students Richard Jones said in the email blast sent over the weekend.
The graffiti was sanded away and repaired within 24 hours of it being reported, according to Cardona. Police are currently investigating the incident, which occurred sometime on Dec. 3, just days before the first night of Hanukkah.
“It is important to clearly state that the sort of bias and hate that this type of incident represents are completely inconsistent with Rowan’s values,” Jones said in the email. “Members of our community should be safe from hate in all areas of the campus, from the residence halls to the classrooms.”
Campuses across the nation have experienced a heightened sense of racial tension in the past several months. The University of Missouri recently made headlines when its football team threatened not to play unless the university president resigned. They felt the president had failed to sufficiently address student concerns about actions perceived as racist towards students of color.
Most recently, students from New Jersey’s own Princeton University has fought to have the name of 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, removed from its School of Public and International Affairs.
Cardona said this is an opportunity to educate students, as much as it is to make a statement about the university’s lack of tolerance towards exclusive behavior.
“The tensions are high across campuses for different reasons,” Cardona said. “These type of incidents happen every once and a while, and you have to use the opportunity to not only say ‘hey, we don’t tolerate this,’ but also to educate people about that type of hate speech.”
It is unclear what motivated the person(s) responsible, but Cardona said the conversation surrounding these incidents has to be never-ending.
“This was an isolated incident, but our education and our discussions about it are continuous,” Cardona said. “Every single fall we get a whole new batch of students, so it’s a constant education process about letting people know how they should react to this sort of thing. You need to constantly remind the university community that this sort of thing is not tolerated.”
The University will hold its first ever Menorah lighting tonight at 7 p.m., sponsored by the Rowan University Hillel organization, on the Student Center patio.
Richard Jones was unavailable for additional comment at the time of this report.
Rhiannon Bulaga contributed to this report.
Featured Image: Photo courtesy of Brandon Anderson via Flickr
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