MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A University of Minnesota student who is Jewish returned to his dorm room and found an anti-Semitic message written on the inside of his door.
It was drawn on the dry erase board and states, “Nazis Rule” above a swastika and what appears to be a concentration camp. The student posted a picture of it on his Facebook page. It’s been shared almost 500 times.
“Just kind of horrifying to see,” said senior Savannah Erdman.
“I don’t think it’s a very good representation of what the University stands for,” said freshman Madelyn Kramber.
The incident happened Wednesday inside Pioneer Hall. The white board drawing appeared to include people being forced into the concentration camp. The words “work sets you free,” seen at the entrance to actual camps like Auschwitz, were also written.
“It was well thought out and had words in there that clearly show that the person understood what the Holocaust was,” said Benjie Kaplan, Executive Director of the Minnesota Hillel which represents the University’s Jewish community. “I was a student at one point in time as well. I know how much stress comes with being a student and no student should have to have the added stress of this type of incident.”
Although this incident has gotten a lot of attention, the University said in a statement that it’s the seventh anti-Semitic incident since December. However, it’s the first to specifically target someone.
Honestly I don’t think it represents the University as a whole,” said Erdman. “I have so many great friends who go here and I don’t see these incidents very often and I think that it’s a very small group of students who are doing it.”
Kaplan said he’d like justice to be served and for the people responsible for the incidents to be caught, however those aren’t his priorities.
“I also think just as importantly, groups that are affected by these things need to find ways to proactively build positive messages on campus,” he said. “What can we do to ensure these types of things don’t happen to our groups or other groups affected by hate in the future?”
The Jewish student targeted by this message filed a police report. When asked through an email what he hopes will happen to the person responsible, he said that the person learns what it means to love, not hate. He said he feels the University has handled the situation well. He said the love and support he’s received since the incident occurred has been great.
Here’s the full statement released by the university:
“On the evening of February 8, an anti-Semitic incident occurred in a residence hall, and is being investigated by the University. While it was not an isolated incident – the BRRN has received a total of seven reports involving swastikas, neo-Nazi propaganda, and other anti-Semitic graffiti since the beginning of December – this case was particularly disturbing as it was seemingly directed towards a specific person. The message was drawn inside the person’s residence hall room and included a picture of a concentration camp and a swastika.
“One of the roles of the BRRN is to track trends in bias activity on campus. One troubling trend that has recently come to our attention is this string of anti-Semitic occurrences. We know from our research that this is not a phenomenon unique to the University of Minnesota; this kind of graffiti and expression is also taking place on other campuses across the nation.
“The story of this abhorrent incident has been broadly circulated on social media and picked up by news sources. The University is responding. Staff have reached out to the student and the student’s family to offer support. Student Counseling Services is available to any student affected by this incident. The BRRN has referred the case to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) and encouraged the student to file a report with the UMPD.
“The University has been in communication with both Minnesota Hillel, which sent a powerful statement earlier this morning, and Chabad U of M, which also released a strong statement.
“The University of Minnesota condemns all acts of hate on our campus. We are a community that values respect, inclusion and diversity. We are disturbed by this trend as well as other acts of vandalism and graffiti that have been reported to us over the last months that target people based on race, religion, sexuality, gender identity or immigration status. Hate is not welcome here. As our new campaign says, “Our differences drive our greatness. We all belong here.”