By Gelsey Plaza
A swastika symbol was found drawn on a poster in a men’s bathroom in Templeton. Dan Koster ’20 took down the sign and notified the PDX Hillel organization, which then reported it as a hate and bias incident. The symbol was accompanied by an anti-NRA sentiment although it is unclear if the two are connected.
PDX Hillel Director Rhonda Abrams notified the Dean of Spiritual Life, Mark Duntley, about the anti-semitic incident.
“This has been reported to the Bias and Hate response team, and they have a process they go through with this kind of thing,” Duntley said. “Be assured it has been reported and will be acted upon by the team responsible for these incidents.”
PDX Hillel Co-President Hannah Exler ’18 hopes that the community will not have to keep experiencing anti-Semitic incidents.
“It is definitely upsetting and frustrating to see this kind of thing happen here,” Exler said via email. “It’s disheartening to see this kind of thing at a school where many students pride themselves on being progressive and open-minded.”
As a part of the Jewish community, seeing acts of antisemitism is alarming and of great concern for Koster.
“This is terrifying for me,” Koster said. “It threw me off guard. When I see a swastika, I don’t see someone trying to be obnoxious. I don’t see someone trying to poke fun. I see fear. I see terror. I see hatred against who I am at this campus. I don’t want to see that at LC.”
Jaime Monsher ’20 has also experienced anti-semitic remarks or symbols around campus.
“Once I walked by some people and then they saw I was wearing a kippah,” Monsher said, referring to the skullcap worn by religiously observant Jewish men. “And they were like, ‘Oh, kippah!’ That feels kind of reductive, like I’m just a stereotype walking around on campus. Seeing people make anti-Semitic symbols on campus is, honestly, cowardly. When it makes it look like that’s something we’re going to allow, that anti-semitic rhetoric and symbols are something we’re going to allow in our space, that’s sickening.”
According to Duntley, there have been few incidents over the years of swastika graffiti on campus.
“While this incident does not seem to be directed at any of our students in particular (it seems to be connected with a comment about the NRA), swastika graffiti is nonetheless not something I want to see happening on our campus,” Duntley said via email. “In particular it can be particularly offensive and disturbing to our Jewish students, so I take it very seriously. This kind of graffiti has no place in our community, and we all need to remember that hate is communicated by using swastikas.”
Upset by this anti-semitic incident, Abrams is hoping that the community will come together and engage in open dialogue about how issues like these can be alleviated.
“My staff and I were sad to hear this had happened on LC’s campus, but unfortunately not ‘shocked’ given the tensions in our world right now,” Abrams said over email. “(We) hope the community can come together to learn how to address this major issue, and to support each other.”
Hillel, in collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League, is planning an event on campus about antisemitism, partially in response to this incident and more. The event is planned for March 19 and Abrams hopes that the community will gather in solidarity to discuss these pertinent issues.