UMPD investigating numerous anti-semitic incidents reported on campus

Photo Courtesy: Talia Schnur
Swastika on door.jpg
Photo Courtesy: Talia Schnur

The University of Miami Police Department is investigating two different anti-semitic incidents reported on campus less than a week apart from each other.

Freshman Talia Schnur never imagined herself being attacked for her religion on one the country’s most diverse campuses. However, on April 10, that changed.

“I would say Judaism is one of the biggest parts of my life,” said Schnur, a public relations major. “I’m very open about it.”

Last week, Schnur heard a knock on her door. When she went to open it she found two of her friends with a concerned look on their faces. Schnur, who lives in Eaton Residential College, said they asked her whether she had seen something that had been marked on her whiteboard. Schnur said “no.”

Her friends opened the door further to reveal a large swastika drawn on the whiteboard hanging on Schnur’s door.

“I was mostly shocked,” Schnur said. “I would have never expected to see that on this campus because there’s so much diversity. You don’t expect to see hate of anything, especially on a campus with so many jews.”

According to the Fall 2017 UM FactBook, 17 percent of students on campus identify as jewish.

Schnur’s experience was not an isolated one.

Another incident with anti-semitic symbols was reported on campus just days later. This time, it was at Stanford Residential College.

A poster that had been taped on the wall just outside of the elevator doors on SRC’s 10th floor had been defaced with “offensive comments and symbols,” according to the April 14 police report obtained by The Miami Hurricane.

The poster, which was hung up to congratulate a First Year Fellow employee for Employee Appreciation Month, had a drawing of a swastika and sexual obscenities written on it in blue ink. The employee did not identify as jewish.

A UMPD spokesperson said the investigations for both cases are ongoing.

UM President Julio Frenk sent an email to the university community condemning the incidents.

“We know that the vast majority of the members of our community adheres to these core principles,” the statement read. “Sadly we sometimes encounter acts of discrimination, intolerance and hatred, which do not represent who we are and must be met with firm response.”

The statement said UMPD, the Dean of Students Office and Housing Residential Life will report directly to Frenk. It also said the “individual or individuals responsible will be held accountable.”

At a Student Leader Roundtable on April 18, Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely said “expulsion” is on the table because of the nature of the incident.

The April 10 incident occurred about 24 hours before the Holocaust Day of Remembrance was set to begin.

UM Hillel’s rabbi, Lyle Rothman, said he knows UMPD and the UM administration are looking to get to the bottom of the case. However, he said regardless of who did it, ignorance is not an excuse but is forgivable.

“Whether it was one person or multiple people, I hope that they did this not because they’re Neo-nazis … but really out of ignorance,” Rothman said. “I truly believe in the ability for some to ask for forgiveness. I want to hope that whoever did this will be found and ask for forgiveness.”

Anyone with information about either cases can contact UMPD at 305-284-6666.