Swastikas painted on Jewish frat house at Vanderbilt


(JTA) — Two swastikas were spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity house at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

The vandalism occurred early Saturday morning at Alpha Epsilon Pi and was discovered after a party there, the Vanderbilt Hustler student newspaper reported. The swastikas were drawn in the elevator and on a basement door.

The university provost, Susan Wente, sent an email to the student body on Monday afternoon to inform students of the incident. She said the university’s police department was investigating.

“We understand the anguish and pain that this hateful symbol causes and we stand together to condemn any effort to intimidate or send an unwelcoming message to the Jewish members of the Vanderbilt community,” Wente said.

Ari Dubin, executive director of the Vanderbilt Hillel, said in a statement sent to JTA that  his organization is “outraged” by the incident.

“While the swastikas were spray-painted at the AEPi house, this inexcusable incident impacts every Jew on campus, and has no place at a Vanderbilt,” Dubin wrote.

“There is no ambiguity about what happened here. Spray painting swastikas at a Jewish fraternity is not a college prank or some mischievous act of vandalism. It is a malicious attack intended to bring to mind the horrors of the Holocaust, to force us to feel different, endangered, and isolated.”

Meanwhile, a swastika was found posted on the bulletin board of the International House at George Washington University, which houses members of nine fraternities and sororities. It was posted by a member of the predominantly Jewish fraternity Zeta Beta Tau, The Hatchet student newspaper reported.

The student who posted the swastika said his action “was not an expression of hatred,” according to Steven Knapp, president of the Washington, D.C., university, and that he reportedly came into possession of the swastika during a spring break trip to India.

The Metropolitan Police Department and University Police Department have launched a hate crimes investigation into the incident, according to The Hatchet.

It was the second time in three weeks that the swastika symbol was found in the International House. Three swastikas were drawn on walls there at the end of February in an incident that is now also being investigated as a hate crime, Knapp said.

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