Freshman who reported swastikas drew them as well

by Robert Lee and Jake Sherman
Hatchet Staff Writers

Monday, Nov. 5, Updated 5:58 p.m.

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Timeline

  • Oct. 23 — Sarah Marshak, a Jewish freshman, reports a swastika drawn on the whiteboard mounted to her Mitchell Hall door. In the next four days, two more are drawn, each progressively larger in size. (The Hatchet, Oct. 25)
  • Oct. 27 — Transfer student Erica Tanne, a Jewish sophomore, finds the symbol drawn on the whiteboard mounted to her residence hall door. Tanne lives in Potomac House.
  • Oct. 28 — A swastika is drawn on Marshak's door for the fourth time. (The Hatchet, Oct. 29)
  • Oct. 30 — Marshak reports a fifth swastika. In eight days, seven swastikas were found on campus: five on Marshak's door, one on Tanne's door and one on a fence by GW Hospital. (Hatchet Web Update, Oct. 29, 7:53 p.m.)
  • Oct. 31 — University President Steven Knapp tells The Hatchet that UPD is investigating and has not involved the Metropolitan Police Department. Also, a swastika was found spray-painted on the door of a Columbia University professor, which the New York City Police Department is investigating.
  • Early Thursday — Marshak reports another swastika on her door. This is the sixth instance in ten days and the eighth swastika found on campus. An eighth swastika is found overnight in Mitchell Hall (The Hatchet, Nov. 1); News Analysis: What is a hate crime? (Nov. 1).
  • Friday — The University states in a news release that it has called in the FBI to help identify those responsible for the drawings. (Hatchet Web Update, Nov. 2, 5:10 a.m.)
  • The Hatchet learns that a student in New Hall reported finding a racial epithet written on her door Tuesday. The word "Niggers" was written at the bottom of a poster advertising for a black engineering group's event. (Hatchet Web Update, Nov. 2, 9:51 p.m.)
  • Another student living in New Hall finds a swastika drawn on her door. This is the ninth swastika found on campus since Oct. 23. (Hatchet Web Update, Nov. 2, 9:42 p.m.)
  • Sunday — The University announces they apprehended the perpetrator of New Hall swastika drawings and racial epithets. The upperclassman was barred from campus, will face student judicial action and possibly charged with violating D.C. and/or federal laws. (The Hatchet, Nov. 5)
  • Monday — Using footage from a hidden video camera in Mitchell Hall, UPD linked Marshak with the vandalism to her door. Marshak told The Hatchet she only drew the final three of the six swastikas. She will face student judicial action and could face federal and District charges. (Hatchet Web Update, Nov. 5, updated 5:58 p.m.)

— Andrew Nacin

The University found the student who reported several swastikas on her Mitchell Hall door was the one who drew them.

Using footage from a hidden video camera, the University Police Department linked freshman Sarah Marshak with the vandalism. She will now appear before Student Judicial Services and could face federal and District charges, a spokesperson announced Monday afternoon.

In an interview with The Hatchet Monday evening, Marshak, said she only drew the final three of six swastikas on her door in an attempt to highlight what she characterized as GW's inaction. Only hours earlier, Marshak categorically denied the charges.

"I wasn't looking to create this, sort of, insanity," Marshak, who was previously a Hatchet reporter, said in a phone interview. "I wasn't looking to become a media darling. I was just looking for acknowledgment from University that someone drew a swastika on the door."

Marshak said Tara W. Pereira, director of SJS, informed her she would likely be expelled. Marshak said she did not want to leave GW but probably will.

Tracy Schario, a University spokesperson, said GW stands by its statement that they have a signed confession from Marshak. Schario would not comment on how many swastikas Marshak was responsible for, only saying it was "several of the incidents."

Robert Fishman, the director of Hillel, said during conversations, Marshak always came across as rational.

"This is a definite cry for help on her part," Fishman said in a phone interview Monday. "I can't imagine why anyone would do anything like this. I feel very sad for her. At the same time I am upset that she had to resort to the actions she took."

Another student was caught Saturday night in relation to the drawing of swastikas, the word "niggers" and the text "white power" in New Hall.

The University is still investigating the Potomac House incident.

Schario would not comment whether the camera was placed in Mitchell Hall by UPD or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who also was investigating the matter.

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