Jewish Journal

Five Swastikas Found at UMass Amherst

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Five swastikas were found at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst Fine Arts Center on Oct. 30.

A university spokesperson said in a statement to the Journal that the swastikas were drawn in chalk on the Fine Arts Center’s walls.

“This act of hate is an affront to the university’s values,” the statement read. “We reject this hateful act and remain firm in our commitment to building a more inclusive, equitable community that embraces the dignity of all.”

The spokesperson added that the swastikas have been removed and university police have been informed on the matter.

UMass Students in Alliance for Israel (SAFI) wrote in an Oct. 30 Facebook post, “We are deeply hurt and disgusted by these anti-Semitic symbols being represented on our campus. This is an act of White Supremacy which is unacceptable and we must condemn it. Hate Has No Home at UMass: Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.”

UMass Amherst Hillel wrote in an Oct. 31 Facebook post that they were “disheartened” about the swastikas.

“Swastikas are symbols of hatred and violence towards Jews and others and have no place at UMass or anywhere,” the post stated. “We denounce anti-Semitism and remain committed to cultivating a campus community where hate has no home. Now is a time to reaffirm the Jewish value that every person has inherent worth and to deepen our commitment to build a world of dignity, respect, tolerance and goodness.”

The UMass Hillel post added that they will be providing bagels and have open office hours for those in need of support and “will be holding space at Hillel for conversation, reflection, and processing” after their Nov. 1 Shabbat dinner.

Anti-Defamation League New England Regional Director Robert Trestan said in a statement to the Journal, “It is truly disheartening to learn that the Fine Arts Center at UMass-Amherst has been defaced with swastikas. This act of hate is all the more concerning following a similar incident last week at nearby Smith College. We commend the University’s swift response to this most recent act of anti-Semitism and the continuing commitment of UMass Hillel and the University to the safety and well-being of students following this incident.” 

He added; “As we await the results of law enforcement’s investigation, we reiterate that acts of hatred towards any group on a college campus or elsewhere cannot be tolerated.”

Alums for Campus Fairness also condemned the swastikas, saying in an Oct. 30 statement, “We must not allow UMass Amherst to become a campus that fosters antisemitism and threatens the mental and physical well-being of Jewish students.”

Previously at UMass Amherst, a swastika was found in a student’s dorm room in Nov. 2018, and two swastikas were found on campus in 2016.