Saturday, June 10th | 22 Sivan 5783

May 10, 2023 5:01 pm

‘Disgusted and Numb’: University of California San Diego Bathroom Vandalized with Swastikas


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

University of California, San Diego. Photo: Alex Hansen/Wikimedia Commons.

An unidentified person used their own excrement to vandalize the walls of a University of California-San Diego (UCSD) residential bathroom with swastikas, the school’s chancellor confirmed on Tuesday in an email to students.

In the email, Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla asked students to contact university police with any relevant information and addressed the campus Jewish community directly, saying, “we regret any pain this may have caused” and “you are valued members of this community.” Khosla did not, however, specifically condemn antisemitism but denounced “all forms” of racism.

“I’m really disgusted and numb,” Shani Menna, a second-year UCSD student told The Algemeiner during an interview on Wednesday. “I can’t comprehend why it’s 2023 and symbols like this are still being used and honestly that antisemitism has become so normalized, not only around the world but also on campuses. It’s stunning. You read about these kinds of stories in history books, and suddenly they’re taking place in your own lifetime.”

Elanit Leiter, a student who was the first to report the incident to UCSD Hillel, told The Algemeiner that the campus is unsafe for Jewish students and that the university has not included the Jewish community in diversity, equity, and inclusion programming, which, she explained, would promote knowledge and understanding of the Jewish people and their history.

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“I’ve dealt with Holocaust jokes, but what is someone who would do that willing to do to me because I’m Jewish?” Leiter said. “The administration needs to figure out how to make a safer environment, and there should be some acknowledgement of Jewish suffering and pain. We’re not discussed in diversity, equity, and inclusion courses — nothing about Jewish history, the reason that we’re in America, the reason that we’re in Israel, and the reason that we’re dispersed around the world. A lot of people don’t even know that Jews come from all kinds of ethnicities.”

Jewish students at UCSD have resolved to use the incident to raise awareness of antisemitism on campus — for example, a swastika was created in November using photographs of students — and throughout the world, Shani Menna said. On Tuesday, the university’s Triton Jewish Leaders (TJL) club, of which she is a member, called on students to sign a statement “demanding that the university do more to protect its Jewish students.” TJL noted that ten Jewish students live in the residence hall where the swastikas were found.

Additionally, two campus Greek-life organizations — Sigma Kappa, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and Kappa Pi — have organized a demonstration titled “United Against Semitism,” a walk through campus that all students are invited to attend. It will take place on May 15.

“As Sigma Kappa, we unequivocally denounce antisemitism in all forms,” one of the groups said on Wednesday in an Instagram post. “In the face of this antisemitic hate act, we can use our strengths to stand together and take meaningful action.”

The incident is the latest in a deluge of antisemitic outrages occurring on colleges and universities in California, a state that in 2022 saw the second most antisemitic hate crimes in the nation. California, with 508 incidents, ranked just behind behind New York, where there were 580.

In April, back to back antisemitic acts occurred on and near the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). In the first, a group of students organized a party commemorating the birthday of Adolf Hitler, and in the second, someone placed a flyer promoting antisemitic and homophobic ideas on the windshield of a car parked in downtown Santa Cruz.

At Stanford University, antisemitic incidents “keep happening,” Rabbi Jessica Kirschner said in a statement shared with The Algemeiner in April after someone etched a swastika into a metal panel of a bathroom and a mezuzah was stolen from an undergraduate resident.

Antisemitic incidents across the United States increased 36 percent in 2022, according to an annual audit issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in March. 492 incidents took place on K-12 campuses, and 219 incidents took place at colleges and universities, an increase of 41 percent from the previous year.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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