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December 14, 2017 4:51 pm

Eleven Swastikas Discovered at Macalester College in One Semester

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The path between the library and Old Main at Macalester College. Photo: Evenjk / Wikimedia Commons.

Two swastikas were recently discovered at Macalester College in Minnesota — the tenth and eleventh such markings reported on campus since the start of the semester.

The swastikas were found drawn on a desk in the college library on November 30th, the student-run The Mac Weekly reported.

Campus security is working with the Saint Paul Police Department and has yet to identify a perpetrator, Macalester spokesperson Barbara Laskin told The Algemeiner.

The president of the college, Brian Rosenberg, condemned the string of hateful markings — as well as an incident of anti-Arab hate speech — in a letter in early November. He said Macalester was doing all it could “to prevent and investigate such incidents while acknowledging the truth that our ability is limited.”

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Rosenberg also announced that in an effort to deprive the perpetrators of “what they so clearly want: attention,” the college will document the incidents in a publicly-available log, but won’t share news of them in the Mac Daily, which is published by the school’s Communications and Public Relations department. “There is no guarantee that this lessening of visibility will stop the incidents, but our current approach does not appear to be working,” Rosenberg wrote.

Despite this, the Mac Weekly expressed its continued commitment to reporting on the markings, and published a comprehensive timeline of the incidents on Friday.

An open letter published days after Rosenberg’s announcement — which received over 600 signatures – condemned “in the strongest terms the repeated appearances of swastikas and other racist symbols and markings (such as recent anti-Arab graffiti) on the Macalester campus.”

Three more swastikas were ultimately found later that month.

While an event held by students, faculty and staff on November 16th — billed as an opportunity to “stand up and speak out against hate in our community” — attracted a large turnout, some community members questioned whether it would result in any direct action.

“They didn’t really touch upon anything specific,” sophomore Joanna Seifter told The Mac Weekly. “Being specific is really important when you’re talking about hateful events.”

An open letter written by several Macalester students to the administration and published on November 30th questioned the college’s decision to stop alerting the community about the appearance of hate speech on campus, saying the move “has not deescalated the situation; the coverage has ceased yet attacks continue.”

“When ignored, hate crimes escalate, they don’t fade,” the students wrote. “Ignoring these seemingly small actions not only invalidates victims, but renders increasingly violent attacks culturally permissible. We believe this is not the culture you seek to create at Macalester.”

The students asked the college to resume covering hate incidents in the Mac Daily, refrain from “using problematic rhetoric such as ‘…small swastikas…’ in communications” — as Rosenberg did in his letter early that month — and to facilitate open dialogue with the rest of the community.

When asked whether hate symbols were displayed on campus with such frequency before this semester, Laskin told The Algemeiner that “there has been a cluster of incidents this semester.”

“On campus we have held community gatherings and provided support to students who feel particularly impacted by these hateful actions,” the spokesperson added. “Our security officers continue to work with the Saint Paul Police Department to share information, and we have asked anyone with information about the perpetrator(s) to contact Campus Security or the Office of Student Affairs.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) warned in a recent audit of antisemitic incidents in 2017, “On college campuses, a total of 118 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the first three quarters of 2017, compared to 74 in the same period of 2016 — an increase of 59 percent.”

“We are deeply troubled by the rising number of anti-Semitic incidents, bullying, and hate in our nation’s schools and we don’t think the statistics paint a full picture of what is happening,” ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “Many school-based incidents still go unreported. As a country, we have to do more to ensure that our schools remain places where students can learn safely without fearing bullying and hate.”

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