Police investigating swastikas found on Smith College campus

  • Smith College GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/25/2019 10:22:37 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Swastikas drawn in marker were discovered on the walls of three academic halls at Smith College on Thursday night, according to an email sent out by President Kathleen McCartney.

Campus police received multiple reports of the anti-Semitic hate symbols on the walls of Seelye, Bass and Burton halls, McCartney said in her email to the college community.

“I condemn in the strongest terms this act of hatred and cowardice,” McCartney wrote. “I also recognize that these are not just marks on a wall but attacks on our community and the values we hold central to our shared humanity. Hate has no place at Smith.”

All the swastikas discovered have been covered, McCartney said, and the university is in the process of permanently removing them and searching for any other swastikas or other hateful vandalism. The Northampton Police Department is also investigating the incident.

The university is prioritizing the safety of the community, “especially members of the Jewish community and so many others for whom this symbol is an act of violence and erasure of identity,” McCartney said.

Director of religious and spiritual life Matilda Cantwell was at the Helen Hills Chapel Thursday until midnight to provide a space for reflection and healing, according to McCartney, and Cantwell and Rabbi Rhonda Shapiro-Reiser planned further communication with the college community Friday. Counselors were also available for students.

“I am sickened and I am angry,” McCartney said. “Acts like this are meant to incite fear and division.

“We will respond, instead, by supporting one another and with our sustained commitment to dismantling the systems from which these abhorrent acts emerge,” she said. “As we deal with the aftermath, let’s hold each other closely with care and love.”

The college also held a gathering of solidarity on Chapin Lawn, behind the Smith College Campus Center. 

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.

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