Stanford residences tagged with anti-Semitic graffiti | News | Palo Alto Online |


Stanford residences tagged with anti-Semitic graffiti

Jewish Student Association to host rally in response

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Two student residences at Stanford University, including the Sigma Alpha Epislon (SAE) fraternity house, were vandalized with swastikas and "anarchy symbols" early Sunday morning, the university said.

Several SAE members discovered the graffiti -- spray-painted in gold on some doors and external structures, one student said -- upon their return to the building at 1047 Campus Drive, the Stanford Daily reported. The chapter's president told the student publication that the fraternity has "no reason to believe that this was targeted toward any particular student in SAE."

The anti-Semitic graffiti was also found on and around Casa Italiana, an Italian language- and culture- focused house. The university initially said it was also found on BOB, a self-operated undergraduate residence, but Department of Public Safety Public Information Office Bill Larson said BOB was not vandalized.

There was much more graffiti at SAE than at Casa Italiana, Larson said. Both residences are on Stanford's fraternity "Row."

Stanford President John Hennessy said he was deeply troubled by the vandalism, which the university is investigating as a hate crime.

"This level of incivility has no place at Stanford," Hennessy said in a press release. "I ask everyone in the university community to stand together against intolerance and hate, and to affirm our commitment to a campus community where discourse is civil, where we value differences, and where every individual is respected."

University police is investigating the vandalism, and Stanford will also launch a separate investigation under its Acts of Intolerance Protocol, which "addresses conduct that adversely and unfairly targets an individual or group on the basis gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, age or social or economic class," the university said. "Such incidents elevate to hate crimes under California law when they include threats, assault or vandalism directed at an individual or group."

At an impromptu student gathering at the Hillel House Sunday afternoon, Rabbi Serena Eisenberg condemned the anti-Semitic acts.

"The display of this loaded symbol of the Holocaust cast a shadow over our university community," she said in the release. "We appreciate the university's investigation of this incident in the wake of recent campus discord. Hate crimes have no place on a college campus or anywhere."

The vandalism follows intense campus debate this year over Stanford's endowment holdings of certain companies that do business in Israel, with the undergraduate student government urging divestment from corporations identified as complicit in human rights abuses in Israel and Palestine. While the undergraduate student government passed a resolution in support of divestment, the university's board of trustees rejected it, saying in a press release that "the university's mission and its responsibility to support and encourage diverse opinions would be compromised by endorsing an institutional position on either side of an issue as complex as the Israel-Palestine conflict."

Noam Rosenthal, a senior who just finished his term as president of the Jewish Student Association, said while unrepresentative of the wider student body or climate at Stanford, the vandalism makes it even more critical to have open conversations on campus about anti-Semitism.

"This is a very tolerant university," Rosenthal said. "That being said, I do believe that the issue of anti-Semitism is one that has been somewhat shoved under the rug this year on this campus, and we should use this event and this unfortunate act of intolerance to revisit the issue of anti-Semitism on college campuses."

The Jewish Student Association is organizing a rally in response, to be held in White Plaza on Tuesday, April 28, at 9 p.m., Rosenthal said.

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20 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:29 pm

It is difficult to believe that this sort of thing still happens in the 21st Century.

16 people like this
Posted by Horrified
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:43 pm

I find it terrifying hat this is being committed by elite, educated people at such an elite university.

It reminds me of stories I heard from my German-Jewish father when I was growing up. He lost many family members at Auschwitz who did not manage to escape Germany when he did.

Elite and educated people did similar things at elite universities in Germany, Austria, Poland, and France--anywhere that had a significant number of Jewish students, as STANFORD does ( though now outnumbered by Asians). If this happens at Berkeley, and Harvard, as well, I will know that history is repeating itself and that no one learned from the Holocaust!

9 people like this
Posted by Horrified
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:45 pm

I cannot help but think of all the Israeli families who fled to Silicon Valley because Israel was no longer safe for them. Perhaps they chose the wrong place to find safety.

6 people like this
Posted by How to respond.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Good people stand up and decry hateful acts and speech. The Germans failed to do this when Nazi anti-semitic literature started circulating, when Jews were required to be marked with stars, when professors and their families were rounded up from their homes...and so things escalated into horrifying chaos.

What action will the Stanford student community take to respond? Or will they wait? What will we do?

Hate can be stopped by acts of courage and love.

5 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 28, 2015 at 2:32 pm

I'll bet somebody knows who is responsible. If law enforcement is serious, they already have a list of all gold spray paint purchases on the peninsula in the past 60 days. Cash sales can be correlated with time-tagged surveillance video at the registers. Whoever did it is now second guessing any tactical mistakes they made, and hoping all the indignation blows over. The public has a short memory.

3 people like this
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 28, 2015 at 2:59 pm

This is deeply disturbing and I'm pleased to see it being taken seriously by campus police and officials. Years ago at a different university there was a similar experience in my department, but, puzzlingly, campus police there did not consider it a hate crime.

We must all speak out against intolerance and hatred and stand together to oppose it.

3 people like this
Posted by Horrified 2 but...
a resident of Woodside
on Apr 28, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Terrible behavior by someone, who will hopefully be found. Re the assumption by some in this forum that this was "committed by elite, educated people at such an elite university", Stanford is a wide open campus. So while this reprehensible act may have been done by someone from Stanford, if the perpetrator is found, then we shall know. Until then, who did it is speculation.

1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 28, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Has anyone started a reward fund yet?

1 person likes this
Posted by midtown mom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2015 at 7:11 pm

midtown mom is a registered user.

Whether or not this particular act was done by "elite, educated people," antisemitism is alive and well in Palo Alto schools. Both of my kids heard Jew used as a pejorative term at both Jordan Middle School and Paly. Interestingly, it is apparently more ok to call someone Jew (whether they are or not) pejoratively, than it is to call someone gay perjoratively. Guess that means gays are doing better than they were. Wonder how atheists are doing locally? :/

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:00 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I want to note some concerns here - a major influx of population to the US occurred due to the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870's - Who owns Alsace Loraine - Germany or France? The main city Strasbourg was a cultural and financial power house. A lot of San Francisco and bay area - including SU was developed and enriched by the people that arrived as a result of that conflict.

I saw an interview on the news of a young SU lady who thought this activity was associated with the local movement regarding the divestment of stock of selected corporations - we all noted that movement here in PA at the time of transition of the PACC which produced young SU students - part of a choral group - singing South Africa songs noting the Apartheid Movement in that country - the bottom line being divestment.

The problem of divestment is that they are targeting corporations - rather than the US Government that is paying the corporation and directing them to follow through with US policy. No corporation goes into a politically hot area unless the US Government has directed that action and provided the funding for that to happen.

So do you see any of the "divestment people" directing their dissatisfaction with the President? Or the Secretary of State who has to authorize those actions? Ms. Clinton is on her way here to get money - maybe someone can ask her the hard questions as to the US policy and what actions this administration has authorized regarding that political hotspot.

The students have enough on their plate just getting their studies done and graduate. That whole area of the world will not settle down.

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 29, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

midtown mom,

Well, that isn't good. Especially if the kids are getting it from their parents... When I was growing up "queer" was the insult, for boys anyway. Interesting how that term was later embraced. Loved your atheists comment--how are they doing, I wonder!

Like this comment
Posted by midtown mom
a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2015 at 11:36 am

midtown mom is a registered user.

Nora Charles,

Some of them don't even seem to know what it means, which seems to imply they are getting it from someplace else. One kid who used it to name-call my daughter was very surprised when she told him she actually IS Jewish. But that didn't stop him.

This weekend, my son came home from a sleepover at which one kid drew insulting things on the others in pen while they were sleeping, presumably to humorous purpose: "I like to suck d--ck," on one kid's face, and a swastika on my son's arm.

Yes, it was 'just fooling around' but it surely seems indicative of something, some cultural meaning, that those were the two items or demographics used. And no, this wasn't at a poor, or even middle-class, child's home.

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