Swastika symbols found at Caneris Hall as anti-Semitism rises across the U.S. and the world | The Triangle

Swastika symbols found at Caneris Hall as anti-Semitism rises across the U.S. and the world

Photograph by Ben Ahrens for The Triangle
Photograph by Ben Ahrens for The Triangle

Two swastikas were discovered at Caneris Hall, etched into a hand sanitizer dispenser and elevator wall respectively, on consecutive days — May 18 and 19, according to a university Resident Assistant and a message from Senior Vice President for Student Success Subir Sahu and Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Kim Gholston.

These on-campus incidents have come at a time where acts of anti-Semitism have increased over 63 percent since conflict broke out in Israel, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

“Jewish people are no strangers to anti-Semitism,” Co-Director of Drexel Chabad Moussia Goldstein said.

Acts of hate are an opportunity to bring the community at large together; to encourage unity and respect, Goldstein said.

Responding with pride is not always easy, and students have felt let down by the administration at Drexel, according to Goldstein.

The message sent by Sabir Sahu and Kim Gholston lacked the passionate condemnation and call to action that previous messages regarding hate crimes affecting other minority groups had included, Goldstein said.

Other anti-hate messages have come from University President John Fry.

In March, Fry penned a message to the Drexel community titled “Standing With Drexel’s Asian American Community”; This past Wednesday, marking one year since the murder of George Floyd, Fry said in a message that “The Drexel community joined this national effort (Black Lives Matter movement) to both see our past more clearly and do the hard work it will take for us to live up to our nation’s founding promise of democracy, justice and true equality for all.”

Sahu’s subject line read “Responding to Antisemitic Symbols and Reaffirming Drexel’s Unwavering Commitment to Inclusiveness, Tolerance and Peaceful Dialogue.” The first line of the message reminded Drexel community members of the university’s encouragement of free speech and peaceful engagement, instead of taking an immediate stance.

“Requesting respectful engagement when responding to anti-Semitism is irresponsible,” Goldstein said.

A stance against anti-Semitism is not equal to a stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and anti-Semitism will continue to grow, unless we come together as a Drexel community and promote respect for others, she said. “Because it doesn’t start with genocide — it starts with disrespect.”

Fry issued a message a week later, following Sahu’s, titled “Standing with the Drexel Jewish Community Against Antisemitism” on Thursday, May 27, in which he appeals for civility and restraint on social media concerning the conflict in the Middle East.

“Our campus is patrolled around the clock and Drexel Police have increased patrols and are on high alert for any threat to centers of Drexel Jewish activity, including the Perelman Center for Jewish Life and the Chabad Serving Drexel University House,” he said.

According to Fry, the Drexel community must support one another and work to prevent antisemitism, as “we should be able to share and debate differing viewpoints with respect, kindness and compassion.”

Goldstein hopes that the person responsible gets the opportunity to sit down with a Jewish educator, to understand the meaning of their actions.

“We need to focus on moral behavior,” she said. “In Judaism, we value all life.”

Anyone with information about this incident should contact Drexel Police, the Office of Equality and Diversity (oed@drexel.edu) or Drexel’s Residence Life staff.