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Jewish Dorm Rooms at American University Defaced with Anti-Jewish Symbols and Message

Swastikas and a Nazi slogan were drawn on the doors of two residence hall rooms belonging to Jewish students and in a bathroom in Letts Hall on Thursday night, American University President Sylvia Burwell announced to the community in an email Friday afternoon.

The American University Police Department has opened an investigation and the person found responsible will be “subject to university policies and appropriate disciplinary actions,” according to the email, which did not specify the policy or disciplinary actions. 

“When we are so deeply focused on our community of care─supporting each and every member of our community who is in pain and feeling scared and vulnerable─it is unacceptable that our Jewish community was targeted and harmed through this act,” Burwell wrote. “Hate speech will not be tolerated. It violates the values that define our community.”

The antisemitic vandalism follows a swastika being found on a ceiling tile in an Anderson Hall bathroom in September 2022 — during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. In September 2021, four symbols — three of which were Nazi propaganda — were found carved into a men’s bathroom stall on the Lower Level of Anderson Hall. The symbols — two swastikas, Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel) bolts and a Star of David — were found between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which is the holiest Jewish holiday. 

Burwell also acknowledged heightened antisemitism and threats against the Jewish community throughout the United States amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The FBI has warned of “heightened” antisemitic and Islamophobic threats and attacks in the U.S. as a result of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the violent retaliation that has followed.

“I ask that as a community we recognize that our Jewish and Israeli community members and families are frightened. Our Muslim and Palestinian community members and families are frightened,” Burwell wrote. “Acts of hate, intimidation, and dehumanization cannot be the way we live together and treat one another. This includes physical threats, as well as online harassment and doxxing. No matter your background, ethnicity, or faith, everyone has a right to feel safe.”

Burwell wrote that the University is working to support the students whose rooms were vandalized. Burwell encouraged other affected community members to utilize campus resources, including the Kay Spiritual Life Center. Students can also go to the Center for Well-Being and Psychological Services and call the AU ProtoCall 24-hour support line, and staff and faculty can turn to the University’s BHS service, which provides counseling for AU faculty, staff and their families.

Source: https://www.theeagleonline.com/article/2023/10/breaking-swastikas-and-nazi-slogan-found-on-doors-of-jewish-students-rooms-in-letts-hall