Penciled swastika found in Willard

Robert Samuels

A swastika was found Thursday night in a stairwell at Willard Residential College, marking the sixth incident since February when racial or religious epithets were discovered in Northwestern student housing.

Lindsey Barnhart, a Weinberg sophomore, said she found the emblem etched in pencil on a wall in the dorm’s main stairwell when she was walking to her room between 8 and 9 p.m. Thursday. When she saw the drawing, Barnhart said she ran upstairs to tell the resident assistant.

Barnhart’s fellow Willard resident Jessica Cohn said she notified University Police after talking to her friend. UP arrived at the scene within 20 minutes, took pictures and offered their apologies to her, Cohn added. Lt. Nicholas Parashis said UP is not considering the epithet a hate crime because it was not directed at anyone.

“I thought back to last year and it made me more mad because I thought someone was stupid enough to start the process again,” said Cohn, a Weinberg sophomore. “I’m frustrated.”

Willard has struggled since September with the defacement of property, said Kevin Kearney, the dorm’s president. But he added that this “charged” vandalism is not symbolic of the spirit of the residential college and will be condemned.

“I’m certain it’s not anyone who lives in Willard,” Kearney said. “But I hope this negative event will help bring people here together.”

The words “nigger,” “bitch,” “slut” and the term “I hate niggers” were found on the doors of students living at Ayers College of Commerce and Industry in February. Within the next two weeks, students found five swastikas in Bobb and McCulloch halls.

The same week that President Bush declared war on Iraq in March, an Indian student living in the Foster-Walker Complex found the words “sand nigger” written on her dry-erase board. In May the term “black monkey” appeared in CCI on a door, and an another door bore the word “nigger” with a drawing of a man with a rope around his neck.

The acts caused Associated Student Government to pass emergency legislation in May reprimanding university administrators for not taking aggressive steps to stop the incidents. An 11-member hate crimes task force also was formed to work with administrators on policies to combat bigotry.

In response to the racial and religious epithets, Mary Desler, associate vice president for student affairs, told The Daily in October that university administrators spent the summer clarifying polices dealing with hate crimes and “incidents of bias.” They also drafted a policy of “civility, mutual respect and unacceptability of violence on campus.”

Desler, as well as Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis, could not be reached over the weekend. Alan Cubbage, the vice president for university relations, said he was unaware of the incident.

Richard Goldberg, co-chairman of the hate crimes task force, said he was notified Saturday about the swastika from another member of the task force. After the strides administrators and the task force had taken to prevent these types of vandalism, the Medill junior said he was “surprised” and “disappointed.”

Still, Goldberg said, his group will engage in a “full investigation” about the incident.

“We are not going to allow them to win,” Goldberg said. “We are not going to allow them to instill fear in the heart of Northwestern.

“We’ve made too much progress to let it all slip away — we’re going to stay positive on our message, and strengthen the parts that need strengthening.”

Goldberg added that NU needs to strengthen its dorm security monitor system. But Sheila Stowe, the security monitor on duty when the swastika was reported, said she saw no suspicious activity at the time.

“I couldn’t do very much,” said Stowe, a Weinberg sophomore. “It happened behind a locked door.”