September 19, 2019

Swastikas Found in Nevada, Boston Schools

UNR's campus. Photo from Wikipedia.

Two swastikas were found in Nevada and Boston schools on Aug. 23 and Sept. 4, respectively. 

On Aug. 23, a swastika was found painted in one of the University of Nevada Reno’s (UNR) new converted residence halls, KOLO 8 reports.The swastika was reportedly a few inches big and found painted in a stairwell on the 17th floor of the Wolf Pack Tower. University police are unsure if the swastika was there before or after students had moved in; there is no surveillance footage from that area.

In an Aug. 24 email to UNR community members, Assistant Director of Residential Life Toby Toland called it “an act of vandalism” and said that it “represents Nazi’s and other current hate groups who encourage discrimination and violence against many underrepresented populations and has no place in our campus communities.”

He added that the Department of Resident Life will be providing education to fight against bigotry and encouraged community members to “hold each other accountable. If you or someone close to you is subject to any form of discrimination, please reach out to a student staff member or your Resident Directors for additional support. You may also report through the Title IX office in the Continuing Education building or through their website.”

Hillel of Northern Nevada, Residence Hall Association and the Associated Students of the University of Nevada issued a joint statement on Sept. 4 saying that the swastika “saddened” them and they’re going to hold a town hall on the matter in October.

“At this Town Hall, we will address various on-campus issues, including anti-Semitism, and work together to create a strategic plan in improving our campus,” the statement read.

Posted by Hillel of Northern Nevada on Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Wolf Pack Tower was originally the Sky Tower; it was converted into a residence hall after a boiler failure caused an explosion in July, resulting in extensive damage to two UNR residence halls. Those halls will be closed for the entire year, if not longer.

In addition, a swastika was found scratched into a Boston high school bathroom stall on Sept. 3, reported by the Boston Globe.

Needham High School (NHS) Principal Aaron Sicotte said in a statement that the school administrators believe the vandalism occurred over the summer, when the school was utilized for myriad programs.

“Hate like this – hate of any nature – has no place at Needham High School,” Sicotte said.

Prior to the swastika found on Sept. 3, NHS had seen seven instances of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti in a span of 16 months from Dec. 2017 to Feb. 2019; at least three of those were swastikas.

Sicotte said in a January email to NHS community members, “I appreciate all of the times students report concerning items and the many times each day a student says to a friend that something shouldn’t be done or said. Those can be hard moments, but they highlight the depth of character of so many of our students and the essence of what make NHS the strong community it is. We have incredible students and adults in this building, and offensive behavior like this does not reflect who we truly are.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, 14 anti-Semitic incidents have been reported in Boston in 2017, 20 in 2018 and 14 so far in 2019. In Nevada, 20 incidents of anti-Semitism were recorded in 2017, 17 in 2018, and at least five in 2019.