Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Vermont University Dorm Defaced with Swastikas

The Univeristy of Vermont has launched an investigation after receiving reports of verbal antisemitic harassment and swastikas drawn on dorm doors in a residence hall this week.

On Thursday, UVM police said a criminal investigation is underway.

Michael Schirling, chief safety and compliance officer for UVM said while UVM police are in the early stages of the investigation, they believe that the incident was done by a group of teenagers who are not affiliated with the school.

“I’m of the belief that when antisemitism occurs, we have to shine a light on it and we have to talk about it,” said Matt Vogel, executive director of UVM Hillel, a Jewish organization for students.

Schirling said the incident took place in Tupper Hall on UVM’s athletic campus and UVM police were first made aware of the incident on Tuesday night after a staff member reported it.

“We have an active criminal investigation that’s ongoing,” Schirling said. “At this point, we’re reasonably confident that the folks that entered the residence hall and were involved were teenagers not affiliated with the campus.”

Vogel said over the past few days, multiple students have come forward to speak with him and others in the Hillel community about the incident.

“I’ve really heard from students that they were very, very worried,” Vogel said. “I think there was a lot of concern for their safety.”

Schirling said in addition to the criminal investigation, UVM’s Residence Life staff are offering additional support services for all students, while Hillel is again offering a safe space specifically for Jewish students.

Vogel said that UVM is included in that list, and ongoing conversations are happening across campus about the differences between free speech and hate speech, especially after a recent uptick in vandalism on campus.

“There have been a number of cases brought just in the last few weeks relative to vandalism that has occurred on and around campus,” Schirling said. “So, again, significant resources is going into ensuring that folks, not only do we have a safe environment, but that environment feels safe to those that are here.”

Although, not all of those cases are related to antisemitism.

However, Schirling and Vogel both said that everyone needs to feel safe where they study, work, and live.

While it is still early in the investigation, Schirling said he’s confident that, at the very least, once police identify who did this, a notice of trespass will be issued.