A dry-erase board inside the University of Minnesota dorm room of freshman Avi Shaver was marked with a swastika and depiction of a concentration camp. Shaver posted the photo to his Facebook when he returned to his room at around 1 a.m., Thursday. The drawing includes the slogan “Work Will Set You Free,” which, in German, is above the entrance to Auschwitz.
“None of my roommates can imagine a time when all 4 of us were gone and the room was unlocked,” Shaver said.
The University of Minnesota’s Bias Response and Referral Network said this incident is the seventh involving swastikas, neo-Nazi propaganda, and other anti-Semitic graffiti since the beginning of December.
“One troubling trend that has recently come to our attention is this string of anti-Semitic occurrences,” the university’s statement said. “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.”
According to the University News Service, the incident is being investigated by the BRRN and the university’s Equal Opportunity Affirmative-Action office. The BRRN has also encouraged Shaver to file a police report, which Hillel Executive Director Benjie Kaplan confirmed Shaver .
Pioneer Hall, the dormitory where the incident took place, has cameras in the lobby but not in the hallways where the residences are.
“The University of Minnesota condemns all acts of hate on our campus. We are a community that values respect, inclusion and diversity,” the school’s statement added . “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.”
Earlier on Thursday, the JCRC, Hillel and University of Minnesota Chabad all released statements.
“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) and Minnesota Hillel condemn the swastika scrawled on the door of a Jewish student’s dorm room at the University of Minnesota,” said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC). “We are deeply concerned by this incident and we urge anyone with information about the vandalism to come forward and report it to law enforcement. We will continue to monitor the situation.”
Said Benjie Kaplan, executive director of University of Minnesota Hillel: “Unfortunately, this is not the first time an incident like this has occurred on our campus this academic year. These types of hateful incidents are unacceptable on the University of Minnesota campus and will not be tolerated. Minnesota Hillel is working closely with the Office of Student Affairs and University Police to ensure this incident, and others, are taken with the utmost seriousness, and to prevent these incidents from reoccurring.”
Kaplan said that he is working with the school and community partners to ensure all Jewish students and community members feel safe and welcomed at the University of Minnesota.
“As members of the Jewish and University community, we stand with others who have been victimized by hate on campus this year,” he said. “We join our partners and friends in our dedication to creating a campus climate where all are valued and all feel safe.”
Said Hunegs: “Perpetrators of these types of incidents are intent on spreading a message of hate and challenging the openness and respectful atmosphere of our community. Collectively, we reject these chilling acts and the hate they represent. The recent spike in hate incidents both nationally and locally directed against Jews and other minorities is deeply disturbing.”