This month, an anti-semitic hate crime was committed in the majority freshman Patapsco Hall. Swastika symbols were placed in the suggestion box on the door of a residential assistant of Jewish faith. Police were called to the scene and an investigation is underway.
The incident, which occurred on Sept. 4, shocked the RA, who was excited about the recent partnership between UMBC Hillel and Tel Aviv University in Israel.
“I was really excited about the tech startup collaboration at first because UMBC and Israel really care about technology and research,” they said.
“What upsets me so much is I’m an RA. You might not like me or respect me when I have to do my job and enforce policy, but a swastika isn’t different from the n-word, a gay slur, or a burning cross,” the resident assistant said. “There was no reason for a personal attack like that. It’s extremely disrespectful, upsetting and hurtful, as I have grandparents that were Holocaust survivors. That symbol almost murdered them,” they continued.
The event has shocked many members of the UMBC community, especially those of Jewish descent. “It’s an awful thing. It’s personally the first time I’ve ever seen such a thing happen on campus. This school is better than that,” said Michael Daugherty, a computer engineering major. Michael was a birthright and Israel engagement intern for Hillel last semester.
Benjamin Schulman, a psychology major, is also shocked by the event. “As a third generation Holocaust survivor I think that’s absolutely disgusting. My grandma and other members of my family had to endure unimaginable horrors under the vicious reign of Nazi Germany. If it weren’t for my grandma getting out alive of the labor camp she was forced into, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
Schulman continued, “People should be able to feel safe living on campus, regardless of their religious or cultural background and bigotry of any kind should be immediately shut down and the person or people responsible should be punished accordingly.”
Others aren’t as surprised with what happened due to the current political climate. “Although UMBC is generally a very liberal campus, those who don’t fit those criteria tend to be shunned. This riles up the racists so they take to anonymous or online forums like YikYak or Facebook to voice their bigotry,” said Hannah Pursley, a junior social work major.
Despite what has occurred, the student affected still maintains an optimistic outlook, with hopes that the UMBC community learns from this incident.
“In the future, I hope all targeted minorities can stand together, work for tolerance and openness through organizations like black lives matter, UMBC Hillel, the interfaith center, freedom alliance and the mosaic center for diversity. Intolerance, anti-Semitism and racism are sadly still prevalent in our culture, but that doesn’t mean we should let it happen. We have to fight back and stand up for who we are or what we believe in,” the resident assistant student proudly proclaimed.
The investigation is still open.