University: Seventh swastika not yet hate crime

Web Update
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 7:53 p.m.

The seventh swastika in one week appeared on campus Tuesday and the University is not classifying the spate of vandalism as a hate crime.

Sarah Marshak, a Jewish freshman who also reports for The Hatchet, found the fifth swastika drawn on her Mitchell Hall door Tuesday morning. The symbol was also found in Potomac House and on a fence by GW Hospital. The University is still investigating the incidents and is not linking the vandalism by the hospital to those in the residence halls.

“It is easy to automatically think this is a hate crime and we can’t jump to conclusions,” said Michelle Sherrard, a University spokesperson.

The Metropolitan Police Department is not involved.

David Friedman, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s D.C. regional office, said the appearance of swastikas are never pranks and should be treated as hate crimes. Friedman has been in touch with Rob Fishman, the executive director of Hillel.

UPD Chief Dolores Stafford has not answered several phone calls for comment on the most recent swastikas. Sherrard said she could not comment on the scope of the University’s investigation but added that UPD is patrolling every residence hall.

Potomac House, in its second year of occupancy, has several surveillance cameras on each floor. There are no cameras near Marshak’s Mitchell Hall room.

Sophomore Erica Tanne said she found the faint image of a swastika on the whiteboard mounted on her Potomac House door Saturday afternoon and reported the incident to UPD later that day.

Tanne, a Jewish transfer student, said she does not understand why anyone would show her this kind of animosity.

“I just transferred to school this year, so I’m relatively new here,” Tanne said. “I don’t think it was attack on me. I just don’t know anyone well enough to think anyone would attack me like that.”

Tanne, who is a classmate of Marshak, said she had read the stories in The Hatchet and spoke with Marshak about the appearance of the first several swastikas.

“I couldn’t believe it when Sarah told me she had had a fourth one drawn on her door,” Tanne said. “I barely saw the swastika on my own whiteboard. The ink was really smeared and very faint. I obviously called UPD immediately and filed a report.”

Andrew Ramonas and Jake Sherman contributed to this report.

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