Swastika found at Georgetown University on Jewish holiday

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - The president of Georgetown University is condemning an act of hate after a swastika was found painted inside the stall of a women’s restroom in a residence hall.

It was found Wednesday night at the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish high holy season marked by a period of repentance and atonement.

Police say this is the third swastika found on campus in the last three weeks. 

“I almost think it's a one off people trying to get their name in the news,” said one student.

“I think the media should cover it because a swastika on campus is not something to be joked about or kept in the shadows of what’s really going on in America,” countered another student.

“I'm from a pretty Jewish area (of New York) and when high school friends ask me what it’s like to go to a catholic school,” said another student, “well, it’s hard to say they're accepting of all faiths when people are painting swastikas.”

Lots of students WUSA9 spoke to admit they never quite felt any racial tension on campus before but this case and these symbols are opening some eyes. 

“It actually makes me question other people around me and myself,” said a student, “and forces to me to look at different movements on campus and what people are actually fighting for.”

Thursday, the university released the following letter:

September 20, 2017

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community,

This evening, we marked the opening of Rosh Hashanah with services in Gaston Hall.  During this holiday—a deeply meaningful time of reflection and celebration for members of our Jewish community—we have been confronted with an abhorrent act of anti-Semitism in one of our residence halls.

Earlier tonight, the Georgetown University Police Department (GUPD) responded to a report of a swastika found painted inside the stall of a women’s restroom in the LXR residence hall accompanied by threatening and derogatory language advocating for violence against women.  This is the third incident in recent weeks involving swastikas in our residence halls and the second in LXR.

There is never a time or place for these acts, and this incident is even more disturbing during Rosh Hashanah.  We stand in solidarity with our Jewish community and strongly condemn this act of hate, anti-Semitism, and sexism.

GUPD is actively investigating these incidents and has increased patrols in the areas surrounding residence halls.  GUPD is coordinating with Metropolitan Police Department’s Special Liaison Branch and requests that anyone with information call (202) 687-4343 or emailpolice@georgetown.edu.  We strongly encourage students who observe an incident you believe to be motivated by bias or hate to file a report through the online Bias Related Incident Reporting form, by calling GUPD, or using the LiveSafe app.

Those found responsible for these acts of hate will be held fully accountable for their actions.

While we investigate these bias-related incidents, we must also continue our work to prevent them.  As we opened the semester, our Office of Residential Living shared a number of initiatives aimed at fostering inclusive communities that will be ongoing throughout the semester, encouraging students to engage with each other through dialogue, as well as our faculty-in-residence and chaplains-in-residence.  I urge our community to take advantage of these initiatives, including the platED program, an initiative that brings together students, faculty and staff for important conversations on inclusion and social justice.  More information can be found at: https://studentliving.georgetown.edu/plated.

We reject hatred, racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, sexism, and Islamophobia.  Ours is a community where all faiths are welcomed, and where we choose to come together in understanding and service towards one another.

Sincerely,

John J. DeGioia

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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