Zeta Beta Tau expels student who posted swastika in International House

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

A second swastika was found written inside International House, a dorm that is mainly occupied by Greek organizations.

The student who posted a swastika on a bulletin board in International House on Monday has been expelled from his historically Jewish fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau.

The student stepped forward to claim responsibility for putting up the swastika, the second time that symbol has been found in International house within three weeks, according to a release from the national chapter of ZBT. Both incidents are being investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department as hate crimes.

Laurence Bolotin, the executive director of the fraternity’s national chapter, said students who commit these acts do not deserve college diplomas. He said he hopes the University “holds this individual accountable to the fullest extent.”

Bolotin said GW’s chapter will complete anti-Semitism prevention training on March 29, an event the national organization mandates for every chapter and that was planned before the incident.

The student claims his act was not an expression of hatred, according to a University release. He picked up the swastika while on spring break in India, where the symbol is considered a symbol of success in the Hindu religion. Officials have not released the name of the student.

Nick Carr, the president of GW’s ZBT chapter, said in a release that the fraternity was “appalled” by the student’s actions.

“This type of behavior is unacceptable and is not tolerated by the brothers of this fraternity,” he said in the release. Carr did not return requests for further comment.

Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth, who is ZBT’s chapter adviser and GW Hillel’s executive director, said in a release that the group has been in touch with University officials to understand the incident and respond appropriately. He said GW Hillel’s first priority is ensuring “the safety of all our students, physically, spiritually and emotionally.”

“As a campus community, we never want to see this breach of trust or this hurtful imagery displayed,” he wrote. “As the stewards of our Jewish community, we take these unfortunate incidents as an opportunity to build bridges of understanding.”

Rabbi Yudi Steiner, who leads GW Chabad, said it seems the University is taking the incidents “very seriously.”

“I am optimistic because I think GW students are much more sophisticated than this, students who make this kind of trouble will simply not be accepted in this community,” he said in an email.

Students in International House said the University has implemented noticeable changes around the residence hall, like increasing security. University spokeswoman Candace Smith declined to say what form the second swastika took, or what specific information led the University to report both incidents to MPD.

Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said in an email Tuesday that multiple offices will work with student organizations to “understand the damage that symbols of hatred do to us all.”

He also said UPD officers receive anti-bias training. Officers who have received such training are helping the Office of Diversity and Inclusion investigate the second incident.

Darnell said officials have “no evidence” to believe there is a connection between the two incidents.

Ryan Lasker contributed reporting.

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