This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Miami University announced today it has found drawings of swastikas and antisemitic posters on campus. The Miami University Police Department is currently investigating both incidents.
The swastikas were drawn in permanent ink and found in the third floor bathroom of Miami’s psychology building, according to an email sent Thursday afternoon by Jay Smart, interim chair of the psychology department.
“I am writing to reassure and remind you that ‘messages’ of this type have no place in our building and do not reflect the values, principles, or beliefs of the department and its members,” Smart wrote in the email. “While we are removing these symbols, we also wanted to remind you that hateful language towards any of us, impacts all of us.”
The posters were found on Oxford’s campus in multiple locations. According to a news bulletin posted by the university to its students, the posters were subsequently taken down and reported to local and federal authorities.
“Antisemitism in any form is unacceptable,” the university wrote in a myMiami announcement. “There is more work to be done to address antisemitism, and all forms of bias and racism, and we will continue to educate our community to promote a culture of inclusion and respect, as we continuously seek changes to ensure that we are true to this mission.”
Smart reminded students that if they see something similar to report it to university officials and the police.
“It reduces the power of these symbols and the people using them if they know that a) we don’t tolerate it, and b) will actively work against it,” Smart wrote.
Lauren Somers is the president of Hillel, a Jewish organization at Miami. While she still feels safe on Miami's campus, she said these kinds of incidents can affect that sense of security.
“We're in a time right now when antisemitism is just insanely high,” Somers said.
The Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate organization, reported that it received the highest number of antisemitic incidents last year, with 2,717 reports of assault, harassment and vandalism.
Somers compared the swastikas to an incident of vandalism at Hillel's center where three individuals destroyed the organization's sukkah, a hut used to celebrate the Jewish holiday Sukkot. Three individuals came forward to take responsibility for the vandalism but said they didn’t understand what the sukkah was.
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The Oxford Police Department investigated the crime and did not associate the vandalism with antisemitism.
“I think a lot of these acts are empty,” Somers said.
But the posters she found more alarming.
“The more we can tie it back to who it is, the scarier it is,” Somers said.
Somers hopes for more education and better communication from the university. While Somers said the university was supportive during the vandalism incident, there’s still more that could be done.
Hillel was not informed of the incidents until The Miami Student requested an interview from the group. In the future, Somers would like to hear from the university first.
“If we're trying to represent the Jewish students, we need to know what's going on,” Somers said. “And we should be one of the first people that the university is contacting about antisemitism.”
She hopes to see more education in classrooms such as including a required religion course as part of the Miami Plan.
“The more we talk about it, the more we educate people, the more we bring attention and really tear that hatred down,” Somers said. “That’s all we can really do.”
If anyone has information about these incidents, please contact the Miami University Police Department at 513-529-2222, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If any student needs support, please contact these resources: Student Counseling Services, 500 Harris Drive, 513-529-4634; the Dean of Students office, 110 Warfield Hall, 513-529-1877; or the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. Counseling support is available for faculty and staff through Miami’s EAP program. To report an act of bias on campus, visit the Bias Incidents reporting page here.