Updated 1:49 a.m.
Three students huddled outside Entryway B of Durfee Hall just before midnight on Monday, dish soap and lemon-scented Lysol in hand. Scanning the pavement, they were there to scrub away the remains of three swastikas drawn in chalk on Old Campus the night before.
On Monday night, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway sent an email informing the University community about the swastikas found outside the freshman dorm the previous night. Despite attempts to remove the images from the sidewalk, Holloway said their faint impressions remained.
“I condemn this shameful defacement, perpetrated anonymously under cover of night,” Holloway wrote. “There is no room for hate in this house.”
Sunday’s incident comes just over a month after several swastikas were discovered drawn on white boards inside of Vanderbilt Hall.
In an email sent to certain members of the Branford community on Sept. 9, Branford Master Elizabeth Bradley and Dean Hilary Fink called the drawing of swastikas “completely unacceptable.”
Holloway, in his Monday email, said that though the images were particularly offensive to the Jewish community, the insult was felt throughout campus. Holloway said that incidents like these reaffirm Yale’s commitment to protecting and embracing the views of every student.
The email asked for students with information about the perpetrators to contact campus police. It could not be learned whether Yale Police are actively investigating the incident.
Holloway could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Rabbi Leah Cohen, Executive Director of the Slifka Center and Senior Jewish Chaplain, said that Monday night’s news came as a huge shock. Cohen said that she was comforted by the support of the Yale administration and that she was hopeful that this would be the last act of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
“Something as hateful as swastikas on campus — it’s not what Yale stands for, its values or its behaviors,” Cohen said.
Students interviewed said that though the act was hateful in nature, it did not make them feel less safe on campus.
Russell Cohen ’17 said that he was horrified when he first heard the news but was unafraid as a Jewish student on campus.
Hillel President Rebecca Bakal ’16 said that she hoped other Jewish students would not hesitate to express their religious views.
“I believe that everyone at Yale should feel safe and comfortable being who they are, and I will do everything I can to make other Jewish students at Yale feel at home,” Bakal said.
Zach Young ’17 said that Yale is a place where Jews are welcomed by the administration and the student body.
The chalking of swastikas outside of Durfee follows similar incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti at Emory University and Eastern Michigan University.
Michelle Yancich ’17 said that she hopes the incident sparks further dialogue on campus about Judaism, adding that anti-Semitic behavior on college campuses should not be ignored.
“Because as much as it could have been intended as a political statement, it was in fact a hate crime and should be addressed as such,” she said.
In an effort to display student support for Yale’s Jewish community, the three students — Javier Cienfuegos ’15, William Genova ’15 and Sebastian Medina-Tayac ’16, a former staff reporter for the News — started drawing a chalk mural reiterating Holloway’s admonition of hate outside of Durfee Hall.
By 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, a group of 15 students had collected outside Durfee. They were passing out chalk to passers-by, inviting them to draw hearts and peace signs under the statement “There is no hate in this house,” a direct quote from Holloway’s email.
A number of different campus groups, ranging from Students Unite Now to the Yale Track and Field Team, affixed their names to the mural.
Cienfuegos said that the email left him hurt, confused and angry.
“I immediately felt like I had to react to this,” he said. “It’s unacceptable to have this on campus.”
Karleh Wilson ’17, one of the other students involved in the mural, said that she heard from Cienfuegos via social media that a group was planning to clean the space on Old Campus.
“Instead of cleaning up, why don’t we draw hearts instead?” Wilson said.
A photograph of the mural appearing on “Overheard at Yale,” a student Facebook group which shares happenings on campus, received over 750 likes within two hours of its posting.