A red swastika is graffitied in Church Fine Arts graffiti stairwell on top of other graffiti

File photo/Nevada Sagebrush
A swastika painted in the Church Fine Arts Building on Friday Oct. 13, 2017. An unknown student drew a swastika in Juniper Hall, leading to the second anti-Semitic action in a residence hall during the 2018-2019 academic school year.

University student Matthew Levin posted on Facebook on Friday, March 8, a swastika he found drawn on the building along with a message, which said: “Kill all Jews” and “Watch Out Communist Bombing on March 6, 2019, and March 7, 2019.”

“Unacceptable,” Levin wrote on the social media platforms. “This was found at Juniper Hall on campus I called home (and in a way still call home) for five years. Never in my life did I think that this was going to happen on our campus that has always been so supportive of all students. The students, faculty, alumni and community deserve better than this. The Wolf Pack should not and will not stand for this.”

The university sent out an email on Tuesday, March 12, signed by Director of Residential Life Jerome Maese, Executive Director of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services, Rod Aeschlimann, Associate Vice President of Student Life and Services, Jerry Marczynski and Vice President of Student Services, Shannon Ellis to inform undergraduate students about the swastika in Juniper Hall. University Police services were contacted and Juniper held a community meeting to discuss this event, according to the email. The email said Housing Facilities fixed the area of concern and the incident is under investigation of Equal Opportunity and Title IX.

“This symbol and the threatening remarks that accompanied it are unacceptable and wrong,” said the email. “We strongly condemn any symbols and actions that represent hate, intimidation or terror. We stand with members of our Jewish community and all people who find such hateful symbols and abhorrent threats to be offensive, and we will work with a number of groups to ensure that our campus remains safe and welcoming.”

This is the second act of anti-Semitism in the Residence Halls during the 2018-2019 academic school year.

On Oct. 27, 2018 — the same day as the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting — an unknown student carved a swastika with a pencil into a wall of Peavine Hall. Peavine staff responded by holding mandatory community meetings to discuss the incident. Police investigated and found the incident did not correspond as a hate crime. Peavine residents suggested the use of cameras and the increase of Resident Assistant watch over the building.

The Residence Hall Association held a town hall meeting in December 2018, in order to address students living in the resident halls concerns. Some students called for more transparency between housing and students since they were unsure if any action was being done. Students suggested more surveillance in the halls of student housing, increased security, more education on diversity and culture and stricter discipline on hate crimes. Here, Associated Students of the University of Nevada announced they were planning a diversity and inclusion event for April 2019. RHA also advocated for residence halls’ Leadership Council to think of events or activities aimed at inclusion and diversity.

RHA President Serena Phen plans on hosting meetings with students and members of the local Jewish community.

In response to the Peavine incident, ASUN held a town hall meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018 to address student concerns. Around 100 students, faculty and concern individuals attended the event. Topics of discussion included discrimination, sexual assault and Tau Kappa Epsilon. Some students condemned the university for not addressing anti-Semitism properly and others felt the university did not support its Jewish students. In February 2019, President Hannah Jackson announced her partnership with Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi sorority and Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity in order to create workshops to address anti-Semitism on campus. ASUN, Student Services and Hillel plan to bring the Anti-defamation League of Nevada on campus for training.

ASUN is hosting a town hall addressing anti-Semitism on Monday, April 15, at 7 p.m. in Great Basin Hall’s Multipurpose Room.

“We hope students will help us brainstorm on ways to partner with RHA and the university to implement legislation and solutions that will combat these issues,” ASUN Speaker, Anthony Martinez said.

Anti-Semitic symbols have been seen around the university before this year. An unknown student tagged the Church Fine Art’s graffiti stairwell—a place where students decorate the walls with murals— with swastikas and a message which said: “is this political enough?” in October 2018. In response, the College of Liberal Arts invited artists in the community to paint over the swastikas.

Former university student and graduate Peter Cvjetanovic participated in a “Unite the Right” white supremacists rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. His participation made regional and national headline as university students demanded Cvjetanovic to be expelled and fired from his job at the university. The university did not expel or fire him stating he had the right to free speech. Cvjetanovic decided to resign from his on-campus job.

 

This is a developing story. Updates will come as they are provided.

Taylor Johnson can be reached at tjohnson@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush