Trachtenberg poster defaced with swastika in Madison

A GW student reported last week that Madison Hall posters were vandalized with swastikas drawn on University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s forehead.

The posters publicized Trachtenberg’s hall tour, in which he will take the GW trolley to Thurston, New Hall, Ivory Tower and the Mount Vernon Quad. The event recognizes his contributions to residence hall life and the GW community throughout his nearly-two-decade-long tenure as president.

University Police Department Chief Dolores Stafford said her department had taken a report and has not had any leads in the case. She said the case has been closed but other evidence may cause officers to reopen it.

Sophomore Jennifer Reynolds said she walked into an elevator at Madison Hall, where she noticed the defaced poster and became instantly appalled. After taking a couple photos of the sign, she threw it away and called UPD.

“Even though I’m not Jewish, I was really personally offended,” Reynolds said. “People that think that hate crimes are okay – it’s not.”

Stafford said UPD is taking the incident seriously and have recorded it as destruction of property. She added that there are consequences for vandalism to posters.

“GW community members need to understand that defacing posters or other property on campus is a crime,” Stafford said. “If individuals are identified as having committed this type of crime, the appropriate action would be taken.”

Stafford said UPD does occasionally report destruction of property incidents with elements of discrimination and they record these as “hate crimes” in their UPD record.

The defacing of the promotional flyer with Nazi symbols is “unfortunate,” said Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services. The administrator said people should be more aware of prejudice because of last week’s flap with radio host Don Imus’ controversial comments about black female basketball players.

“Especially coming off the week’s events, GW students should be more sensitive,” Chernak, who oversees UPD, said Friday evening. “What did we learn as a society? But hey, look, individuals act out in ways that are sometimes inappropriate.”

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