Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Swastika Discovered on Maine College Campus

On March 18, President Garry Jenkins sent an email to the Bates community about a “small swastika” discovered inside one of Hathorn Hall’s elevators. This is the second time this academic year that antisemitic graffiti has been found on the Bates campus. Last semester on Oct. 13, a swastika was drawn inside a bathroom stall in Gillespie Hall — a student dormitory previously known as 280 College Street. In his latest email, Jenkins condemned both incidents as “cowardly acts of antisemitism.”

According to the email, the graffiti was discovered in the late afternoon of Friday, March 15. Jenkins wrote that the college believes the swastika was “placed” in the elevator that afternoon “between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.” Although the email did not provide any information on the individual(s) who found the graffiti, it did mention that the college had “promptly removed and reported” the swastika to the Title IX and Civil Rights Compliance Office as well as Campus Safety. 

Sent two days after the incident, the email does not provide an explanation as to why the Bates community was not notified sooner.

Campus Safety has opened an investigation into the incident to identify those responsible. Addressing the Bates community, Jenkins urged “anyone with information…to speak up” by contracting Campus Safety at 207-786-6254. 

Jenkins fiercely condemned the deployment of this notorious hate symbol as contrary to Bates’ values. In his email, he wrote: “Frankly, we are angry. Bates stands firmly against hatred and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or shared ancestry, and we remain fiercely committed to fostering an environment of inclusivity, respect, and understanding.” He also warned students that such antisemitic graffiti “is not free speech; it is hateful conduct. It is also a criminal act, subject to prosecution.” 

Jenkins informed the community that the college is “taking steps to install more cameras across campus to better identify vandals.” He added that “any person found culpable will be subject to Bates’ established policies and procedures for determining appropriate disciplinary action, which could include dismissal from the college.”

In his earlier Oct. 13 email — sent to the Bates community following the first incident of antisemitic graffiti in Gillespie Hall — Jenkins claimed that Campus Safety was “investigating [the] incident.” Since then, however, the Bates community has not received any updates on the status or outcome of the investigation.  

Students seeking support can contact their Student Support AdvisorCounseling and Psychological Services, the Multifaith Chaplaincy, or the Office of Intercultural Education. Any bias incidents can be reported here or by contacting Gwen Lexow, Associate Vice President for Title IX and Civil Rights Compliance, at 207-786-6445 or [email protected]