On the morning of August 19, Bon Appetit staff called Campus Safety to report a swastika found on the wall of a bathroom in Baldwin Hall.
Sally Walker, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Albion College, stated in an email, “It is believed that the swastika may have been put on the wall sometime the previous day. Campus Safety has opened an investigation into the incident, and the Albion Department of Public Safety was also notified. Facilities has responded and covered the swastika. Anyone with information about this incident should contact Campus Safety by phone (517/629-1234), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or 1003 E. Cass Street. Support and assistance is available for our students 24 hours a day throughout the week. Please call Campus Safety and a staff member will direct you to on-call resources.”
“My initial reaction is disappointment,” said Michael Bernard, president of Hillel at Albion College. “It’s disappointing to be in a society where there are people that think actions such as this are acceptable. Hillel hopes to spread awareness, love and acceptance for all this semester.”
Last fall, images depicting racist and white supremacist ideologies, such as swastikas and symbols for the KKK, were graffitied on storefronts along South Superior Street. In response, Albion College and the community organized a unity rally to show their solidarity against any form of racism and bigotry.
As we were reminded both then and now, Albion College’s Discriminatory Harassment policy “prohibits any acts of intimidation, or any behaviors that demean, slur, or stereotype and individual or group on the basis of sexual orientation, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, gender expression, age, disability, marital status, or veteran status. These include oral and written remarks, symbolic speech, illustrations, innuendos, and electronic messages or postings.”
With the recent events taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, the swastika and other hateful symbols have been reported frequently among American media. According to USA Today, “The swastika has been etched on parked cars in Miami Beach, Cincinnati, and Port Washington, N.Y., and spray painted on a sidewalk at Florida State University, a tree in New City, N.Y. and a Jewish couple’s mailbox in Phoenix.”
USA Today also reports that anti-Semitic crimes have been on the rise over the last two years, including a 34 percent increase in anti-Semitic events last year. There was another spike in the first quarter of this year, and the swastika is the most common factor in such incidents.
Albion College president Mauri Ditzler was also filled with disappointment upon hearing the incident; however, he was proud of the response from the community and the challenge of responding to an action such as this.
“No one defended the action or said, ‘Why did you send out such a harsh email?’” said Ditzler. “People are responding to this in a way that a community ought to respond to it.”
Anyone with information about this incident should contact Campus Safety by phone (517-629-1234), email (email@example.com), or 1003 E. Cass Street.
Photo by Steve Marowski