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Mount Holyoke president condemns antisemitic acts on campus

December 10, 2021 GMT

Three antisemitic incidents on the campus of Mount Holyoke College this fall appear to be the work of one student, the president of the prestigious women’s college in Massachusetts said in a statement to the campus community on Friday.

The most recent antisemitic act discovered earlier this week was described by the Anti-Defamation League in New England as a swastika and a racial slur targeting Jews. The graffiti, written in black marker on tile in a bathroom, was reported on Tuesday by a parent of a student, the civil rights organization’s deputy regional director, Peggy Shukur, said Thursday.

The ADL in October received two reports of swastikas and slurs written in bathrooms at the school, Shukur said.

“Based on all of the information that we have available to us, we believe that these incidents are the acts of an individual Mount Holyoke student who is living on campus,” Mount Holyoke President Sonya Stephens wrote in her statement posted on the South Hadley school’s website.

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All three incidents were in the same residence hall, she said.

The handwritten Nazi symbol in the latest incident has been removed and local, state and federal law enforcement was informed, she said. Citing the ongoing investigation, she did not disclose any more details.

“I am compelled to express my deep disappointment and anger that a member of our Mount Holyoke community would commit such harmful and cowardly acts,” Stephens wrote. “The association of the specific drawings found were intended to convey the murderous legacy of the Nazi regime, antisemitism, hate and white supremacy — none of these have any place at Mount Holyoke or in the many international communities of which we are so much a part.”

The school has about 2,200 students, according to its website.

There have been several high-profile antisemitic incidents in Massachusetts this year. Last spring a Massachusetts high school football team was found to be using antisemitic language during its on-field play calling.

In the summer, a rabbi was stabbed outside a Jewish school in Boston and in October, a Jewish ornament known as a mezuzah was desecrated at Northeastern University’s Hillel House.