A pair of swastikas were created in the snow at the University of Connecticut over the weekend.
The swastikas, one large and one smaller, were clearly visible from the upper floors of Oak Hall Monday morning.
“It’s discouraging and frustrating,” Executive Director of UConn Hillel Scott Selig said. “I really thought that we, as a country and a community, were past using symbols of hate.”
Selig said UConn is generally an accepting environment for the Jewish community.
“I do believe that UConn as a community is a very open and unbiased community,” Selig said. “The University is a great partner with UConn Hillel and supports the Jewish community as well as other communities…that sometimes face bias.”
UConn Spokesman Tom Breen said the university is working through its bias-related incident protocol to gain information about and hold whoever created the symbols accountable by working with the UConn Police Department. The protocol is also designed to help anyone in the UConn community who may have been affected by the incident, Breen said.
“Our goal is to ensure the university is an open and welcoming environment, and to quickly address anything that might have a negative or intimidating effect on our community,” Breen said.
Last semester there was another incident targeting a member of the Jewish community at UConn. A girl reportedly yelled “Go to the fucking ovens,” at UConn student Nathan Schachter who was wearing a kippa, a traditional Jewish cap.
Selig said he thinks incidents like these are stimulated by the sentiments expressed and inspired by some national politicians.
“I truly believe it has a lot to do with the example that is being given in Washington in our government,” Selig said. “I really am dismayed by the example that is being set, really, from the top down.”
Selig said the Hillel community works to combat hateful ideas with supportive activities such as rallies, which were held after the white nationalist march in Charlottesville and the shooting in Las Vegas. Hillel is also brining former white supremacist Christian Picciolini to speak on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Theatre about forgiveness and inclusion.
Selig said, despite the bias-related incidents directed at Jewish members the community, he believes UConn remains a welcoming, inclusive place.
“I do believe there are more good and compassionate people here on campus who want to make sure our community is doing all the right things and supporting each other,” Selig said. “It’s just too bad when things like this happen.”