“The outline of a swastika” was found drawn on a West Hall window during the evening of April 8, according to a public letter to the University from President F. Javier Cevallos.
A West Hall RA reported the incident after a group of residents brought it to their attention, according to an email sent to all West Hall residents by Area Director David Case. The email was forwarded to The Gatepost by a West Hall resident.
In the email, he wrote the swastika was discovered in the fourth floor study lounge. A community meeting for West Hall residents was held later that evening to give students the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns.
Cevallos wrote in his letter, “On Monday, productive floor and building meetings were held with members of West Hall to explain what happened; denounce the behavior; seek assistance in determining the person responsible; and review the resources available to students on campus.”
He added, “This discovery is deeply disturbing, especially given the rise in racism and anti-Semitism that has occurred nationally, including on our own campus last semester. As you know, Framingham State condemns all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry.”
In their statements, both Case and Cevallos stressed that the University supports its students, and it has enlisted the help of FSUPD in an ongoing investigation. They also urged students to come forward if they have any information or knowledge regarding the incident.
FSUPD Sgt. Martin Laughlin said, “We are actively looking into it. We take this matter very seriously and want to hold whoever did it accountable for their actions.”
Laughlin suggested it might be an “isolated incident” because of the location in which the symbol was found, which contrasts with the locations and nature of the hate crimes last semester.
This is the first incident of this nature that was not publicized through a campus-wide email this academic year. Only West Hall residents received Case’s email regarding the incident.
Case added, “Defacing property with a symbol of hate is an outrageous affront to the members of our community and not in keeping with our University values. This type of hate incident can invoke a wide range of emotions and some of you may feel vulnerable, hurt and angry at this behavior.”
Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, said she was not able to attend the meeting, but wrote a message to West Hall residents echoing Case’s sentiment.
“We must not let the one who perpetrates this violation to erode our tolerant community. This is your home. This symbol of hate is unwelcome. We support each other in our loving community through respectful dialogue,” González said.
“It is a shame that an individual would introduce such a hateful symbol near to Holocaust Remembrance Day,” she added. “We are a loving, tolerant community; there is no place for hate on our campus.”
González said she reached out to her contact at the Anti-Defamation League, who will be coming to FSU in the future to give a presentation on “hate symbols.” She also said she will meet with the Bias Education Response Team (BERT) for further discussion.
Cevallos added BERT and other campus resources like the Counseling, Health and Wellness Center and the Center for Inclusive Excellence are available should students need them.
Senior and West Hall resident Ashley O’Regan said, “This is a community filled with different diversities and different people of so many different cultures, and just to have this really hateful symbol displayed – especially in a place that’s supposed to be safe for students – is just awful.”
Sophomore and West Hall resident Tyler Johnson said, “I think it was a terrible thing. This should be a place where everyone is comfortable. Everyone should feel safe.”
Representatives of Residence Life could not be reached for comment by print time.