Swastikas, hate words send shock waves through NU

Sarah Dreier

The simple lines of the swastika — making two appearances in Bobb and McCulloch Halls in the past week — have triggered complex feelings of fear and anger for many Northwestern students, faculty and staff.

McCormick sophomore Jared Brown and Weinberg sophomore Avi Feinberg returned to their Bobb dorm room Monday night to find the symbol written on their door’s dry-erase board.

The act is the third in a string of hate incidents on North Campus in the past week, which Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Desler called the “most troubling acts of vandalism” she has encountered in her seven years at NU.

Last Thursday, students found a swastika scratched into a third-floor staircase door in McCulloch. Two days earlier, the words “nigger,” “bitch” and “slut” were written in marker on four doors in Ayers College of Commerce and Industry.

Chuck Loebbaka, a university spokesman, confirmed that a swastika was drawn Monday on the students’ white board but said no one was seen drawing the symbol.

University Police Lt. Nick Parashis said there is a possible connection between the two swastika incidents, but he wouldn’t link them to the racial slurs that appeared in CCI.

When Brown saw the swastika Monday, he said he was astonished but determined to keep such incidents from happening again. “I personally felt shocked and upset,” he said. “I wanted to do what I could to prevent and end any hate on campus.”

Brown and Feinberg keep a picture of an Israeli flag on their door, which Brown said might have made their room a target.

“I believe someone saw the flag and felt the need to express their hatred toward Israel and Jews,” Brown said. “I don’t know if it was directed toward my roommate and me, but I do know that it’s an attack on the entire campus.”

Brown said he has felt supported by his friends, administrators, members of the Jewish community and resident assistants.

Rebecca Maltzman, a Bobb resident and active member of NU’s Jewish community, echoed appreciation for the support at NU.

“It makes me believe that these were the actions of one or two individuals and that the feelings of acceptance have not changed,” said Maltzman, an Education sophomore.

Still, Desler said some students “talk about not feeling safe here.”

Rabbi Michael Mishkin, executive director of the Fiedler Hillel Center, said he wants students to know they are supported.

“Jewish students … should know these acts of hate do not represent this community or this university,” he said.

While the university investigates the incidents, many groups are finding ways to unite the campus.

For Members Only will hold a rally at 6 p.m. Thursday at The Rock. Participants will march to CCI and have a meeting to denounce the acts. A forum Monday at Norris University Center will feature members from across the NU community, including University President Henry Bienen.

The Office of University Residential Life and the Multicultural Center Advisory Board have rush-ordered buttons and posters reading, “No room for hate — Northwestern University.” They will be given to interested students and faculty.

The Daily’s Jesse Abrams-Morley contributed to this report.