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Responding to Hateful & Antisemitic Symbols on Campus, October 24, 2019

Open College Hall gates in the fall

On the evening of October 24, 2019, Campus Police responded to multiple reports of swastikas drawn in marker on the walls of Seelye, Bass and Burton halls. In accordance with college policy, the incident was referred to the Bias Response Team and was investigated by Campus Police.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When and where were the swastikas discovered?
A: The swastikas were found written in red marker on the walls of three academic buildings—Seelye, Bass and Burton halls—on the evening of October 24, 2019.

Q: How many swastikas were found?
A: As of October 28, 2019, 10 swastikas have been found and removed.

Q: Are these symbols still visible?
A: No. The swastikas were covered immediately after they were reported to Campus Police; they have all been removed.

Q: What is the status of the investigation?
A: President McCartney released an update to the investigation on November 14, 2019

Q: Are any outside organizations providing support?
A: Yes. The college has spoken with the Anti-Defamation League, which recorded details of the incident and offered support.

Q: How is the college supporting students and other members of the campus community?
A: Several events have taken place and more are planned to offer support through curricular and co-curricular engagement. They include:

  • A “Smith in Solidarity” community gathering held Friday, October 25, 2019.
  • An invitation from the Jewish community for students, faculty and staff to attend Shabbat dinner on October 25, 2019. Students and faith leaders from the Five Colleges and the local community attended as well.
  • A lecture titled “Lucy Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Emergence of Holocaust Consciousness in the U.S.,” by Nancy Sinkoff, associate professor of Jewish studies and history, Rutgers University, was held on November 4. 2019.
  • Professor Rachel Rubenstein will lecture on March 30, 2020, as part of the series “Thinking Through Race” on “Racial Confusion: Jewishness, Racial Formation and the Many Faces of Antisemitism.”
  • Public art: a short-term response to recent vandalism—public artist Melissa Gollance will create a large mural designed to invert and counteract the hateful image of the swastika.

More events will be added to this list as they are confirmed.

Q: How can alumnae or members of the broader community offer support?
A: Alumnae can continue to offer support by responding to the all-alumnae email sent on October 25, 2019. Additionally, messages of support can be shared on social media using the hashtag #SmithRejectsHate. These messages will be shared with members of the Jewish community, the Office of Equity and Inclusion and others on campus affected by this incident.

Q: Have changes been made to campus security protocols? 
A: The Campus Police department has offered additional support to the community, including increased patrols and presence at specific events if requested.