April 1, 2020

Three Swastikas Found on Cornell in Nine Days

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A total of three swastikas have been found on Cornell University’s campus in a span of nine days, according to the Cornell Daily Sun.

The first swastika was found on a whiteboard at Court-Kay-Bauer Hall on Nov. 10; the second was found at Clara Dickson Hall on Nov. 14.

On Monday, the third swastika was found in the snow in front of Mews Hall, close to Appel Commons.

Avi Simon, a Jewish student who first noticed the swastika in the snow, told the Sun, “These are the symbols they [the alt-right] use in my experience, and it means a target toward all people of color, towards Jews, toward members of the LGBTQ community.”

Ryan Lombardi, the vice president for student and campus life at Cornell, expressed “revulsion” at the swastikas in a Tuesday statement.

“I vehemently denounce such acts, which are clearly intended to intimidate members of our community,” Lombardi said. “The swastika has historically been – and continues to be – used as a symbol of intolerance, terror and repression against vulnerable communities.”

Lombardi added that a “support gathering” would be held after Thanksgiving for community members to address the issue.

“I specifically want to acknowledge and affirm our support for the Jewish members of our community who have faced the impact of anti-Semitism nationally and, unfortunately, now locally as well,” Lombardi said. “It is our shared responsibility to denounce such cowardly acts.”

However, the university has been criticized over its response to the swastikas. The Sun argued in a Tuesday editorial that the university’s response to the swastika was too slow, prompting “an increase in confusion and worry among students.”

“While we appreciate the sentiment in VP Ryan Lombardi’s statement that was eventually emailed to students shortly before noon today, Cornell must understand that in this fast-paced world, it must move more quickly and assertively,” the editorial read. “It took five days and a third swastika for a statement to be released. Were the first two swastikas not worthy enough of recognition?”

The editorial added that Lombardi’s statement “said next to nothing about finding those responsible and holding them to account.”

“There was not even a sentence asking anyone with relevant information to come forward to help in the investigation,” the editorial concluded. “Denouncements are fine and good, but unless they are followed by action, they are not worth the digital ink in which they are printed.”

When asked by the Journal about the editorial, a university spokesperson simply pointed to Lombardi’s statement from earlier in the day.