Groups decry swastika on Old Campus

Concerned e-mails circulated around campus yesterday after nearly a dozen students — including six brothers of the primarily Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi — discovered a swastika symbol and the “SS” insignia sculpted in snow on the trunks of two Old Campus trees at 3 a.m. Saturday.

While they said they are upset by the symbols, members of Jewish campus groups have not yet announced any formal public response to the incident.

Students found a swastika and SS symbol written in snow in Old Campus yesterday.
Students found a swastika and SS symbol written in snow in Old Campus yesterday.

The appearance of the symbols comes during a year when two other anonymous incidents — including the spray-painting of “nigger school” and “drama fags” on University property in November — have caused a stir on campus.

Witnesses to Saturday’s incident called the Yale Police Department after discovering the symbols, but police could not identify a culprit that morning, said Benjamin Chaidell ’11, one of six brothers who discovered the insignias.

The phrases “JE” and “JE SUX” — a reference to Jonathan Edwards College and its motto — were also written in snow on two other trees, Chiadell said. The trees marked “JE” and “JE SUX” were located in front of Farnam Hall, he said, and the trees marked with the swastika and SS insignia were nearer to the center of Old Campus.

Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry called the event “immature,” “ugly” and “disgusting.”

“I don’t know who would do this,” he said Sunday evening.

Pierson College Master Harvey Goldblatt sent an e-mail marked “URGENT” decrying the incident to all Pierson students Sunday evening.

“It is shocking for these kinds of hateful images to appear anywhere, but it is even more disturbing when it is within the locked gates of Old Campus at Yale University,” he wrote in the e-mail.

“Let us hope that we have seen the last of these hateful images,” he added, “Enough is enough!”

In response to the incident, the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale will hold a moment of silence to commemorate the deaths of six million Jews at Nazi hands prior to afternoon services, Noah Lawrence ’09, the spiritual life chair of AEPi, wrote in an e-mail to members of Yale’s Jewish community Sunday.

Such a response is meant to send a message to “those who would trivialize — or worse, celebrate — the slaughter of our people,” he wrote.

On Sunday, Jonathan Goldman ’09, a member of Yale Friends for Israel and brother of AEPi, sent an e-mail to several hundred students that contained photos of the defaced trees and expressed concern about the symbols.

“We should be loud and insistent that this is completely intolerable,” he wrote in the e-mail.

Goldman told the News he sent out the e-mail because it was apparent to him that few students were aware of the incident.

“Nobody seemed to know about it at all,” he said. “Nobody seemed to be taking charge of any kind of campus-wide initiative.”

Goldman noted that the event — though isolated — suggests a continuation of the previous instances of hate speech on campus this year.

Jeremy Avins ’10, senior coordinator of the Multi-faith Council, said the incident demonstrates a “bad streak on campus.”

“I’ve been at Yale for two years and have seen acts of hate against Muslims, homosexuals, African Americans, women and now Jews,” he said. “And that’s at the very least.”

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