Anti-Semitic Graffiti on Campus Raises Concerns

September 16, 2017

Village C West. Photo: Taryn Shaw/Georgetown Voice

Two swastikas were found painted in an LXR elevator on Sept 6, and one was found carved in a Village C West elevator on Sept 6.

Students were alerted of the situation by emails from Todd Olson, vice president of Student Affairs, and Reverend Mark Bosco, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry. “As a community, we condemn all acts of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and any form of hate. These acts are antithetical to our values as a Catholic and Jesuit university and our commitment to be inclusive and welcoming to people of all faiths and racial and ethnic backgrounds,” they wrote.

Sarah Clements (COL’18), president of the Jewish Student Association (JSA), said that the organization was worried about Jewish freshmen and transfer students on campus. “Our first concern was with new Jewish students on campus and how they might feel in this moment,” Clements said. “In moments both positive and negative, new Jewish students know they have a home at the JSA.”

Clements also commented on how the administration has reacted to these incidents. “In the past year when these incidents have been happening more and more, the university has gotten better over time at reaching out to our community in a proactive way,” Clements said.

“Individual administrators coming to Shabbat on Friday and physically being with us there is probably the most impactful sign of solidarity we received from them.”

Students are also pushing to find solutions to this kind of hatred on campus. Clements wrote in an email to the Voice that a group of students met with a representative from the Anti-Defamation League to determine the best ways to turn negative acts into positivity for the community.

Jay Gruber, chief of the Georgetown Police Department wrote in an email to the Voice that the department is working to address the issue. “We are following up on all leads in the two cases.  Progress comes very slowly in these types of cases. Anonymous tips through the LiveSafe app will help us solve the cases more quickly,” he wrote.

Gruber stressed the importance of reporting these incidents. “Reporting these acts of hatred and reporting on those who have committed these act are also very important to lessening the reoccurrence of these hateful acts,” he added.

Members of the Georgetown administration have also discussed the necessity of students supporting one another. Rabbi Rachel Gartner, director for Jewish Life, explained that for now, student peers seem to lack a readiness to accept the pain that comes with anti-Semitism.

Last spring, a similar incident occurred when a swastika was found in an elevator in VCW.

Image Credit: Taryn Shaw

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