A sign at the University of Oregon Hillel was vandalized, July 2018. by the Forward

These colleges claimed antisemitic incidents weren’t hate crimes

As part of its investigation into universities’ compliance with the Clery Act, the Forward created this list of antisemitic incidents between 2016-2018 that conceivably fit the criteria for inclusion in a school’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report as a hate crime motivated by religious bias, but were not listed there.

The list of incidents were compiled from media articles, as well as reports made to the Anti-Defamation League and the AMCHA Initiative, who shared their data with the Forward.

Several universities justified their decision by citing “Scenario 5” in the Department of Education’s Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, which goes as follows: “Several students call the campus security office to report swastikas spraypainted on the walls in a hallway of an on-campus student housing facility. Campus security personnel investigate but cannot find conclusive evidence that the markings were bias-motivated. Do not include this incident as a Hate Crime in your Clery Act statistics.”

Many of the incidents below are virtually identical to events that other universities included in their reports. Some of those schools, like American University, Brooklyn College and Columbia University, did so because they determined that they did in fact fit the law’s requirements for inclusion in their Annual Security Reports. Others, like Hampshire College, determined that incidents on their campuses did not meet the legal definition of a Clery-reportable crime but listed those events anyway in the interest of full disclosure.

The following incident descriptions do not include the statements of condemnation that (in most but not all cases) were made by university officials after the discovery of the vandalism. Entries also do not include antisemitic incidents that the universities did indeed categorize as hate crimes.

Bentley University

Incident:September 2017: A Jewish student discovered a swastika drawn on his dorm room door. Bentley did not classify this incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “When deciding how to report such an incident we follow the legal definitions, as we did in this case. We went beyond the mandatory guidelines in taking every reasonable step to ensure the safety of our students, offer support to those impacted and make it clear to everyone in the residence hall that this was unacceptable.” – Helen Heinrichs, senior associate director, news & communications

Binghamton University

Incident:March 2017: A swastika is found in a bathroom stall in Bartle Library. Binghamton did not classify this incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “The incident in question was investigated by New York State University Police, who after a thorough investigation were not able to identify a witness or suspect. Clery standards require sufficient evidence that the offender’s actions, in whole or in part, were motivated by bias or that the victim was intentionally selected by the perpetrators bias against the victim. In this case it was determined that not enough elements of a hate crime are present to classify this incident under the Clery standards.” – Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media & public relations

Bowdoin College

Incident:October 2018: A swastika and “Heil Hitler” were drawn on a carrel in Hubbard Hall. Bowdoin did not classify this incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “Bowdoin analyzed the incident under the Clery Act and treated it appropriately under those standards….In particular I would point you to Scenario 5.” – Doug Cook, director of college and media relations

Bucknell University

Incidents:December 2016: A swastika was carved into the bathroom of Bertrand Library; February 2017: A swastika was drawn in the bathroom of the ELC building. Bucknell did not classify either of these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: “While Bucknell’s response to both situations was a clear and direct statement that this behavior would not be tolerated, the investigation found no specific victim and no perpetrator was identified as being responsible for the drawings. The locations of the graffiti and the time when the offensive graffiti was noticed also did not provide any context to suggest bias on the part of the unnamed perpetrator.” – Mike Ferlazzo, director of media relations

California State University, Northridge

Incident:October 2017: A swastika and a derogatory statement were drawn in purple paint on the walkway between the USU building and the on-campus rainforest. CSUN did not classify the incident as a hate crime, though it did classify other antisemitic incidents as such.

Explanation: CSUN Police declined to comment.

Case Western Reserve University

Incident:November 2018: A swastika was found in a bathroom stall in the Sears building, days after a previous swastika was removed. The incidents took place days after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting. Case Western Reserve did not classify those incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: “Campus security personnel investigated but could not find conclusive evidence that the markings were bias-motivated, so the incident was not reported a Hate Crime in our Clery Act statistics.” – Case Western Reserve University

College of Staten Island

Incident: November 2017: A swastika was discovered in a storage room. CSI did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “As per our standard practice, we notified NYPD and representatives from the Hate Crimes Unit responded. Based on the guidance provided however, it was not reported as a hate crime in our Clery statistics.” – Cheryl Adolph, executive director for institutional advancement.

College of William and Mary

Incident:November 2016: The words “Go Trump!” with a swastika as the “T” were drawn on a residence hall bathroom. William and Mary did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “The location of the graffiti (image and words) was not directly targeted at a specific individual or a group of people and the wording included with the graffiti put it in a political context not a religious one.” – Suzanne Clavet, director of news & media

Duke University

Incident:October 2018: A swastika was carved into the door of a bathroom stall in the Languages Building. Duke did not classify the incident as a hate crime, though it did classify other antisemitic incidents as such.

Explanation: “The Clery Handbook states that a Hate Crime is ‘a criminal offense that manifests evidence that the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias…’ We found no evidence that an individual was selected in this instance. This determination was also based on guidance we have received from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation on classifying Hate Crimes.” – Michael Schoenfeld, chief communications officer.

Florida State University

Incident:March 2017: A swastika was drawn on a sidewalk outside a non-Jewish fraternity house. FSU did not classify the incident as a hate crime, though it did classify other antisemitic incidents as such.

Explanation: “Based on the location of the graffiti, investigators were unable to determine any specific individuals or campus groups targeted by the graffiti, and therefore the incident was not counted.” – Dennis Schnittker, director of university news & digital communications

Harvard University

Incident:March 2016:A swastika was drawn on a table at Harvard Law School days after a lecture by a former top IDF legal counsel. Harvard did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: Harvard did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions.

Ithaca College:

Incidents:December 2016: An antisemitic word was written in Bogart Hall; December 2017: A swastika was discovered in Gannet Center; February 2018: A swastika was discovered in the bathroom of Terrace 9; March 2018: A swastika was discovered in a West Tower bathroom; April 2018: A swastika was burned into a cinder block in a West Tower bathroom; April 2018: A freshman in Lyon Hall reported that his mezuzah was knocked off his door and damaged. Ithaca did not classify any of these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: A university spokesperson cited Scenario 5.

Lafayette College

Incident:April 2016: A residence hall bathroom and bulletin board were vandalized with swastikas. Lafayette did not classify these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: “1. There was no specifically intended victim upon which to base a further analysis of the act. 2. The offender was not identified, preventing a finding of proof of bias. 3. Therefore, we lacked evidence that would lead “a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by bias.” - Mark Eyerly, vice president of communications

Lehigh University

Incident:November 2018: Antisemitic, Islamophobic, and racist graffiti was discovered in the library. Lehigh did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “In order for the incident to be reported as a bias-motivated incident, we needed significantly more evidence than what we were able to gather during this investigation.” – Lori Friedman, director of media relations

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Incident:October 2017: A swastika was drawn on a wall in the Simmons dorm building. MIT did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “The MIT Police Captain in charge of MIT’s reporting pointed to The Clery Handbook, which includes a similar scenario to the 2017 one (see Scenario 5 on page 3-34). The handbook states that ‘without conclusive evidence that the markings were bias-motivated,’ the incident should not be included as a Hate Crime in a school’s Clery Act statistics.” – Kimberly Allen, director of media relations

Michigan State University

Incident:November 2018: A man was charged by local police with “ethnic intimidation” after allegedly harassing his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, who is Jewish and worked at the local Hillel. According to charges, the behavior included multiple threatening phone calls and social media messages to him and other Hillel employees. Those comments allegedly included antisemitic statements like “Hitler greatly benefited our gene pool by cleaning it out a bit.” Michigan State did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: Michigan State declined to comment. The Hillel is not on campus grounds; while crimes that occur off-campus are normally excluded from Annual Security Reports, an exception in the law requires reporting of crimes occurring at “any building or property owned or controlled by a student organization recognized by the institution.” Clery Center senior director of programs Laura Egan told the Forward that this would apply to any Hillel that owns or controls its own building and is recognized as an official student group.

Muhlenberg College

Incident: October 2016: Antisemitic vandalism was found on campus. Muhlenberg did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: Muhlenberg did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions.

New York University

Incidents:January 2017: “Jews are a virus” was written on a recycling bin; January/February 2018: A Lipton Residence Hall lounge was vandalized with swastikas twice in three weeks. NYU did not classify these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: NYU did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions.

Ohio University

Incident:September 2017: Two swastikas were discovered the day before Yom Kippur: One painted on a wall in Glidden Hall (accompanying the word “Clinton”) and one on Jefferson Hill. OU did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “From a Clery analysis standpoint, the motivation for the vandalism appeared to be political, as opposed to religious, and thus the matter was not reportable under Clery.” – Carly Leatherwood, senior director, communication services

Pennsylvania State University

Incidents:November 2017: A menorah in front of the Zeta Beta Tau House was stolen and damaged; December 2017: The ZBT menorah was against stolen and damaged, and a brother who attempted to stop the theft was assaulted. Penn State did not classify either of the incidents as a hate crime.

Explanation: “The municipal law enforcement agency investigating this case did not classify these incidents as bias motivated, which is why it is not listed as such in the ASR.” – Lisa M. Powers, senior director, news and media relations

Princeton University

Incidents:May 2016: Antisemitic graffiti claiming Jews are “ruling the United States” was discovered in a Friend Center bathroom the day before Yom HaShoah; January 2017: An orange swastika is spray-painted on “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” a large on-campus sculpture; September 2017: A swastika drawn with a white, waxy substance was found on the “Hedgehog and the Fox” sculpture two days before Rosh Hashanah. Princeton did not classify any of these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: “The 2016 and 2017 incidents involving graffiti were not classified as hate crimes based on the definitions in the Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting.” – Michael Hotchkiss, deputy university spokesperson

Rice University

Incident:February 2017: A swastika and the word “Trump” were chalked on the statue of William Marsh Rice. Rice did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: Rice University declined to comment.

Rutgers University

Incidents: January 2016: Swastika accompanied by the words “get them all” discovered in campus library; February 2016: Swastika drawn under picture within a university art exhibit; February 2016: Swastika graffiti discovered in campus library; February 2016: Four swastikas drawn on wall in café at Rutgers University Student Center; June 2016: Swastika graffiti discovered in elevator at Rutgers University library; July 2016: “NO KIKES HERE” written in black ink in student center bathroom; September 2016: Swastika vandalism discovered on campus; February 2017: Swastika and message blaming Jews for 9/11 found in bathroom; May 2017: Swastika discovered in bathroom; October 2017: Swastika spray-painted on Stonier Hall; December 2017: Swastika carving in residence hall; December 2017: Swastika drawing in bathroom stall; December 2017: Swastika drawing discovered in bathroom stall; April 2018: Swastika vandalism discovered and reported to Anti-Defamation League; October 2018: A swastika and the message “IMPERIVM EVROPA” were written in a bathroom stall in a residence hall at Rutgers University; November 2018: A swastika and the word “Jew” were written in a bathroom stall in the student center. In this three-year period covered in its most recent Annual Security Report, the university only reported two hate crimes motivated by religious bias, one each in 2016 and 2017 – though it did not disclose whether that was an act targeting Jews or members of another religion. At minimum, Rutgers did not classify 14 of these 16 incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: Rutgers did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions.

Swarthmore College

Incident:January 2017: A swastika was drawn on a bathroom stall in McCabe Library. Swarthmore did not classify the incident as a hate crime, though it did classify other antisemitic incidents as such.

Explanation: Swarthmore did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions.

Temple University

Incident: November 2018: Someone drew a swastika and the words “Fuck you, Jews!” inside a men’s bathroom. Temple did not classify the incident as a hate crime, though it did classify other antisemitic incidents as such.

Explanation: “The vandalism in the men’s restroom was not categorized as a hate crime per DOE guidelines, as the vandalism was not directed at an identifiable victim, and investigators were unable to find conclusive evidence the incident was bias-motivated.” – Morgan Zalot, associate director, strategic marketing and communications

University of California, Berkeley

Incident:December 2018: A man brought a fake bomb to the UC Berkeley Police Department headquarters that was covered in antisemitic statements, including “All Jews fuck off and evaporate.” UC Berkeley did not classify the incident as a hate crime, though it did classify other antisemitic incidents as such.

Explanation: “The purpose of the ASFSR is to provide aggregate crime statistics, and campus safety and security policies to allow the community to make informed decisions about their safety. It is not the intended purpose of the statute or the ASFSR to provide the general public with a detailed case analysis involving specific reported incidents.” – Janet Gilmore, senior director of strategic communications

University of California, Los Angeles

Incident:January 2018: A mezuzah was damaged and torn down from the door of UCLA’s undergraduate student government. UCLA did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: UCLA did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions.

University of California, San Diego

Incidents:November 2016: A swastika and the words “Heil Trump” were spray-painted on the ground at a bus stop; June 2018: A sign at the construction site of the future UCSD Hillel building was defaced with the words “Fuck You All.” UCSD did not classify either of the incidents as a hate crime.

Explanation: For the 2016 incident: “The UC San Diego Police Department was unable to determine who defaced the property and their motivation. Further, because the defacement was at a general public location that was not specifically dedicated to any particular group, there was no additional evidence to indicate that this was a hate crime under the Clery Act.” For the 2018 incident: “Institutions are required to include in their non-campus property any building or property owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the institution. However, the UC San Diego Hillel student organization does not own or control this building or property. The Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel is owned by the San Diego Hillel, which is not affiliated with UC San Diego.” – Leslie Sepuka, associate director, university communications

University of California, Santa Cruz

Incident:December 2017: A swastika was spray-painted on concrete near the East Remote Lot. UCSC did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: In a phone interview, UCSC Police Department records and communications manager Teri Taylor explained that according to Department of Education guidelines, when possible bias-motivated vandalism occurs in a public space like a parking lot, “the university technically is the victim, because it’s not targeted at a specific group or person. We don’t have a hate crime, because the victim is not in a protected class.”

University of Chicago

Incident:December 2016 and March 2017: A neo-Nazi group posted a poster depicting swastikas and Adolf Hitler on campus. A few months later, after a separate white nationalist poster incident, a man was arrested in connection with both events and charged with property damage. The University of Chicago did not classify either of the incidents as a hate crime.

Explanation: “The University took these incidents seriously and former University of Chicago Provost Daniel Diermeier notified the entire University community of these incidents, as they are in direct conflict with the University’s values. The University further reported these incidents in its daily crime and fire log, consistent with the requirements of the Clery Act.” – Gerald McSwiggan, assistant director for public affairs

University of Connecticut:

Incident: November 2016: A swastika was drawn on a restroom door. UConn did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “Unfortunately, officers were unable to identify the offender(s)…. The [Department of Education] handbook says that ultimately, it is ‘the perception of the offender, not the perception of the victim that determines whether a crime is classified as a Hate Crime.’” – Stephanie Reitz, university spokesperson

University of Delaware

Incident: August 2018: A stairwell was defaced with swastika graffiti. UD did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “In the August 2018 incident, the graffiti was in a staircase of a general residence hall; the students living in this hall were not members of any specific group. Thus, there was no clearly defined victim.” – Andrea Boyle Tippett, director of external relations

University of Hartford

Incident:November 2016:Two swastikas and the words “They Lied About Hitler” were drawn on a restroom wall. UHart did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: “Public Safety personnel conducted a thorough investigation and found no evidence that the incident was bias motivated. While the University finds the graffiti despicable, its circumstances do not meet the definition of a hate crime under the Clery Act, as specifically illustrated in Scenario 5.” – The University of Hartford

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Incidents:May 2016: Five large swastikas were discovered on campus in the span of a few days, including two two-foot-long symbols drawn in marker in the Armory indoor track-and-field center; March 2017: A blue swastika was painted on the wall of the English Building; March 2017: A blue swastika was painted on the wall of the Undergraduate Library; September 2017: Two swastikas and the words “I hate Jews” were found carved on different bathroom doors in Altgeld Hall; November 2018: Swastika graffiti was found in an underground tunnel the same week a white supremacist group staged a photo op in front of a campus statue; December 2018: A swastika was drawn on the wall of a bathroom in the English Building. UIUC did not classify any of these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: “Under the Clery Act, a hate crime is defined as a criminal offense that manifests evidence that the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias against the victim. The drawing of a racist symbol in a public place, on its own, does not necessarily meet this definition provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Generally speaking, there must be evidence that the victim — or, in this case, the location — was deliberately selected based on the offender’s bias.” – Chris Harris, senior director of strategic communications

University of Maryland

Incidents:October 2017: Two incidents of swastikas drawn in an Ellicott Dining Hall were recorded in a three-day period; October 2018: A swastika and the number 1488, which is associated with the neo-Nazi movement, were discovered in McKeldin Library. UMD did not classify any of these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: “Under the Clery Act, a hate crime is a criminal offense that manifests evidence that the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias against the victim.” – Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas, public information officer, University of Maryland Police Department

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Incidents:February 2016: A swastika was etched into a bathroom stall in the Integrative Learning Center; February 2016: A swastika was etched into a bathroom door in Hasbrouck Laboratory; November 2018: A swastika was carved into floor signage at Knowlton Hall; November 2018: A swastika was drawn on the pavement in the Prince, Crampton and MacKimmie courtyard; December 2018: A swastika was carved into a bathroom stall in Baker Hall; December 2018: A swastika was carved into floor signage at Knowlton Hall. UMass did not classify any of these incidents as hate crimes, though it did classify other antisemitic incidents as such.

Explanation: “In order for an incident to be classified as a hate crime, there must be evidence that 1) a crime was committed against person(s) or their property, and 2) the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias against that victim as a member of a specific protected classification. Barring other evidence, a symbol or non-threatening language alone found on a piece of property does not typically rise to the classification of a hate crime.” – Lt. Brian Henault, University of Massachusetts Amherst Police Department

University of Mississippi

Incident:November 2016: Swastikas were drawn in an elevator in Residential College South. Ole Miss did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: Ole Miss did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions.

University of New Hampshire

Incident:May 2017: Nine swastikas were drawn in a stairwell at Stoke Hall. UNH did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: UNH did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions.

University of North Florida

Incidents:December 2017: A swastika, a smiley face with SS bolts for eyes, and the words “we’re here” and “anti-antifa” were drawn on a bathroom stall in the Fountains building, a month after a student with a swastika tattoo was suspended from school; February 2018: A swastika was scratched into the paint of a bathroom stall in Building 45; April 2018: A swastika was carved into an elevator fire safety panel in Building 51. UNF did not classify any of these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: “Without a known offender to question/investigate, or other additional evidence at the scene/elsewhere, UNF does not have enough information to classify those crimes as hate crimes.” – Amanda Dawson Ennis, media relations coordinator

University of Oregon

Incident:July 2018: A welcome sign at University of Oregon Hillel was defaced with the words “Free Palestine You Fucks.” UO did not include the incident in its catalogue of hate crimes, though it did not other antisemitic incidents that they felt did not rise to the level of criminal activity.

Explanation: A UO spokesperson referred the Forward to University of Oregon Hillel director Andy Gitelson, who said that his interpretation of the Clery Act was that Annual Security Reports do not have to include incidents that in off-campus locations like the Hillel building. While this is normally true, an exception in the law requires reporting of crimes occurring at “any building or property owned or controlled by a student organization recognized by the institution.” Clery Center senior director of programs Laura Egan told the Forward that this would apply to any Hillel that owns or controls its own building and is recognized as an official student group.

University of Rhode Island

Incidents: March 2016: A campus elevator was vandalized with a swastika; April 2018: More than a dozen cars parked on campus were vandalized, some with swastikas, over a two-week period. URI did not classify either of these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: URI did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions.

University of San Diego

Incident:February 2017: Five swastikas were drawn in bathrooms in five different buildings over a two week span. USD did not classify any of these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: Senior director of media relations Lissette Martinez wrote in an email that each of the incidents were classified as “an act of intolerance” but did not respond to a follow-up email asking why they weren’t classified as hate crimes.

University of Tennessee

Incidents:November 2017: A mural memorializing the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that was painted on The Rock, a boulder commonly decorated by various student groups, was covered up with a painted swastika; November 2017: The following week, a painting of the university mascot was covered up with swastikas and other neo-Nazi symbols. UT did not classify either of these incidents as hate crimes.

Explanation: UT did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions.

University of Texas

Incident:February 2017:One of Texas Hillel’s windows was broken overnight. UT did not classify the incident as a hate crime.

Explanation: UT did not respond to the Forward’s emailed questions. The Hillel is not on campus grounds; while crimes that occur off-campus are normally excluded from Annual Security Reports, an exception in the law requires reporting of crimes occurring at “any building or property owned or controlled by a student organization recognized by the institution.” Clery Center senior director of programs Laura Egan told the Forward that this would apply to any Hillel that owns or controls its own building and is recognized as an official student group.

Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at pink@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink

Colleges say antisemitic events weren’t hate crimes

Author

Aiden Pink

Aiden Pink

Aiden Pink is the Deputy News Editor for the Forward. Contact him at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink.

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