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North Carolina University Under Fire for Ignoring Antisemitic Incident

The mother of a High Point University student said the school did not take seriously an antisemitic incident involving her son until she reported it to news outlets.

Jill Moskowitz said someone drew a Swastika on the door of her son’s dorm room sometime between midnight on March 18 and noon the next day. Until she reached out to news media on Tuesday — more than two weeks later — no one from the school indicated they would try to find out who did it, she said.

“It’s unacceptable,” Moskowitz said in a phone interview from her home in New Jersey. “He was targeted because he’s Jewish. It’s bullying, plain and simple, and it shouldn’t be tolerated.”

Moskowitz said that as her son was choosing a university, he never considered whether he would feel welcome based on his religious faith. Since he’s been at High Point University, she said, he never had any issues until recently.

But now, she said, she wonders if the private, United Methodist-affiliated school has been slow to respond because she and her family aren’t Christian. “We proudly shout it from the mountaintop: High Point University is a God, family and country school,” a post on the University’s blog reads. “HPU celebrates the fundamentals that made this country great.”

Moskowitz said, “They are very focused on that. Jews are a minority at the school, and I think minorities don’t get accounted for.”

Moskowitz said that on the afternoon of March 19, her son noticed the Swastika crookedly scrawled on a dry-erase board mounted to the door of his suite. His name and those of his three roommates are all on name tags on the door.

Moskowitz’s son took a photo of the symbol and went to report it to his resident advisor, who his mother said told him, “It was probably just a drunken prank. Let me know if it happens again.”

Disappointed that the RA wasn’t more interested, Moskowitz said, her son reported the incident to Amy Epstein, the university’s Jewish Life Coordinator, who was supportive and who immediately filed a report with the school’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

A few days later, Moskowitz said, someone posted on High Point University’s Yik Yak, an anonymous online chat platform, that they “(expletive) hate” her son, calling him by name. Moskowitz said her son doesn’t know who posted the remark.

Moskowitz said it was more than a week after the Swastika incident when her son told her about it, saying he didn’t want to upset her. By then, no one at the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs had been in contact with him, she said.

Moskowitz contacted the office herself on March 27. She also asked for advice on a private Facebook page for the parents of High Point University students that include members who work for the school and offer answers to questions.

One of those members, identified as a “concierge” or school liaison, responded privately, saying they would file a report with Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. By Thursday, when Moskowitz had received no response from the office, she reached out to the concierge again.

On March 31, Dr. Sherrell Fuller, senior director of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, emailed Moskowitz, saying, “I want to reach out once more to let you know that I was absolutely not ignoring you and minimizing the importance of everything that has happened to [your son].”

Fuller said in the email he had faith in Epstein’s ability to investigate and deal with bias issues involving antisemitism and added, “By no means was I not taking this seriously.”

Fuller told Moskowitz in the message that he, Epstein and the vice president of student life would discuss how “to move forward with diversity training and conduct procedures.”

Moskowitz responded to the email the same day, saying she wants to see the person who drew the Swastika on her son’s door be held accountable.

“As a university, this reflects on you,” she wrote to Fuller. “Something must be done. Emails and promises to educate do absolutely NOTHING to solve this problem. I am one voice but you have a much bigger platform. DO SOMETHING!!!!!!!!”

On Tuesday, after she reached out to several news outlets, Moskowitz said she received a call from High Point University President Dr. Nido Qubein, who told her he had been away from campus and had only just learned of the incident. Moskowitz said he told her that campus police were investigating, but that because her son’s room is in a corner, footage from cameras in the halls didn’t offer clear images of anyone approaching.

She said he called her a second time Tuesday afternoon to apologize and say the school had not handled the situation properly.

Moskowitz said her son had been contacted by campus police Tuesday afternoon, the first time since the incident began.

The FBI’s updated report on 2021 hate crimes, released in March, found antisemitic crimes had increased nearly 20% over the previous year and represented the majority of religious-based hate crimes.

Source: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article273955955.html