Felony charges have be filed against the man suspected of drawing two swastikas on Millersville University’s campus on Monday.
On Thursday, University President Dr. Daniel A. Wubah said the school had recently discovered swastikas drawn in an elevator and a sidewalk at a residence hall.
Ethan Rosencrans, 20, of Harrisburg, who is not a student at the university, has been charged with one count of institutional vandalism in connection to the incident, according to Millersville University Police.
Investigators consulted the university’s security camera system to identify Rosencrans as a suspect, according to a criminal complaint affidavit. He was seen walking with two other suspects outside the East Village Suites, where the swastikas were discovered, at about 5:25 a.m. on October 30.
Rosencrans is seen on-camera bending down and drawing on the sidewalk in front of the residence hall. He and the other subjects were later seen boarding the East Village Suites elevator where the second swastika was found, according to the complaint.
He admitted to drawing the swastikas in an interview with police, the complaint states. Rosencrans allegedly said he did not intend to attack the Jewish community, but understood the impact of his actions and apologized, according to the complaint.
The President of Ville Hillel, an on campus Jewish community, says the symbol is offensive no matter the intention. She asked not to be named.
“It’s uncomfortable to walk into your building that you live in and see some sort of symbol that people can take as very hateful,” she said. “It’s something that I don’t expect to see again and I hope not to see again.”
She says she hopes the incident was an immature mistake and not a reaction to the conflict in Israel.
“I’m assuming that whoever put these symbols up wasn’t doing it out of spite or hate,” the MU senior said. “I think it was honestly just ignorance.”
MU junior Lee Berman says antisemitism nationwide elevates concerns.
“It does spark fears within the community of more violent events happening,” Berman said.
He also emphasizes the importance of dialogue and discussion.
“I think just trying to find out more about another group that you don’t know much about or that you have different viewpoints to is always going to be important to loosening some tension in the world,” Berman said.
Other MU students called the actions inappropriate and inexcusable.
“People are 18, 19, even 25 going here and these unacceptable things are happening,” sophomore Owen Hoffman said. “People are talking about how that shouldn’t be happening here. That’s embarrassing.”
Ville Hillel’s President hopes this matter can serve as a teaching moment.
“You know people do things without thinking,” she said. “This is a learning opportunity.”
Both she and Berman say they still feel safe in the community and were pleased with the Millersville’s quick response.
In a message to students and staff on Nov. 2, Wubah said the graffiti has already been removed and no other incidents of a similar nature have been reported on the campus.
However, a similar incident was reported at Bucknell University in Union County this week.
“At Millersville University, we condemn and do not allow any acts of hate, bigotry and discrimination in our community,” Wubah said in a statement. “Such behaviors do not align with or reflect our EPPIIC (Exploration, Professionalism, Public Mission, Inclusion, Integrity, and Compassion) values. The campus community needs to be united in our stand against hate. Any form of intolerance or hatred is antithetical to our EPPIIC values and our mission.
“Our EPPIIC values – particularly inclusion and public mission – are our guiding principles. We are committed to creating a diverse campus environment free from harassment and discrimination.”
Wubah called on students and staff to remain vigilant and to promptly report any similar incidents to campus police or through the LiveSafe App.
The university is also offering counseling services to anyone impacted by the incident at the MU Counseling Center, which will have walk-in hours from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and again Monday-Friday of next week, Wubah said.