VUPD is investigating a report of homophobic language and an antisemitic symbol written on the exterior of the Blair School of Music, per an April 1 email from Vice Provost and Dean of Students G.L. Black and Vice Chancellor for Outreach, Inclusion and Belonging André L. Churchwell.
According to the email, the university has not identified a suspect, but any Vanderbilt community member found responsible will be subject to disciplinary action and criminal prosecution as seen fit by law enforcement.
“Language and actions intended to promote fear or division at Vanderbilt will not be tolerated as we continue, as a community, to foster a welcoming, affirming and inclusive environment for all,” the email reads.
First-year Joel Bernstein said he was worried about an incident like this occurring, citing an uptick in hate against Jewish communities in recent years. As a result of recent increases in discrimination nationwide, Vanderbilt updated its discrimination policy in November 2022 to allow for students to be subject to sanctions even if their discriminatory acts do not directly violate university policy.
“It’s upsetting how incidents like these almost always come from places of ignorance by people who are fed false narratives,” Bernstein said in a message to The Hustler. “Ignorance leads to hate, so I implore those who want to act to educate themselves on Judaism and ask questions on uncertainties they have to prevent even more people falling down this spiral.”
Bernstein also encouraged those who want to learn more about Judaism to attend Hillel and Chabad events on campus.
In November 2022, NGO StopAntisemitism exposed Vanderbilt University’s Assistant Football Coach Dan Jackson for defending Kanye West’s antisemitism on a Facebook thread, stating people need to “wake up.”
Vanderbilt Hillel President Carly Stewart, a senior, said her community was hurt by the vandalism, especially since similar incidents have recently happened in the greater Nashville community.
“I think it is important that Vanderbilt continues to affirm its support for affected communities. Vanderbilt should also investigate the incident thoroughly to hopefully find the perpetrators,” Stewart said. “Incidents like these show that antisemitism and homophobia are unfortunately still alive. Hatred has no place on our campus, and we hope that the Vanderbilt community will come together to support affected students.”
This vandalism occurred only a few weeks after Governor Bill Lee signed bills restricting public adult cabaret shows — effectively limiting drag shows — and banning gender-transition care for minors. Junior Chandler Quaile, Vanderbilt Lambda Association community relations director, expressed concerns about the homophobic vandalism in an email to The Hustler.
“Our community has once again been placed at the crosshairs of bigotry through hate symbolism on a part of campus home to the highest concentrations of queer people,” Quaile said. “This is an unacceptable and morally reprehensible act of unbridled hate, and the Lambda Association condemns the vandal in the strongest terms possible. Hate has no place on this campus.”
A university representative declined to comment further on the matter and referred The Hustler to Black and Churchwell’s email.
Vanderbilt Chabad did not immediately respond to request for comment.