Swastikas and other anti-Semitic markings were carved into several doors in a freshman residence hall at Rowan University's main Glassboro campus, the university learned last week.

On Thursday, a student in a suite in Chestnut Hall reported swastikas and other markings carved into multiple doors inside the suite. An alert was sent to students over the weekend.

"The swastika is recognized as a symbol of anti-Semitism, racism, and ethno-religious oppression, which is offensive to many groups," Richard Jones, the university's dean of students, said in the email blast.

"In an effort to acknowledge the negative impact that such an incident can have on the community, a floor meeting was held in the suite to inform residents of the bias-related incident, and offer them an opportunity to voice their thoughts and feelings."

Rowan spokesman Joe Cardona said Tuesday none of the students in the suite identify as Jewish. The doors were immediately sanded and repaired, he said. A staff member held a meeting Thursday night, which two dozen students attended.

The email alert, titled "Hate Graffiti Cannot Be Tolerated," was meant in part to teach students, Cardona said.

"Occasionally, there are things like this, right? So we sent out an announcement to the university saying we don't tolerate this stuff," he said, citing an incident last school year where swastikas were drawn in chalk on a sidewalk.

"Every single time it happens, we make a point to share with the university community . . . so they're aware, so they understand the culture of this community," he said.

Rabbi Hersh Loschak, codirector of the Rohr Family Jewish Student Center - Chabad of Rowan University, said in a statement that the vandalism was particularly jarring given the university's acceptance and tolerance of all cultures and religions.

"The people who committed these acts did so in order to spread hate on campus," Loschak wrote in the statement, noting that the incident took place shortly before Hanukkah.

"We refuse to be intimidated or frightened; in fact, we will use this incident as a motivation to increase the light and expand our programming for Jewish students on campus," Loschak wrote.

The university held its first public menorah lighting at the Rowan student center patio at 7 p.m. Tuesday in what he described "as a sign of Jewish pride, solidarity, and as a statement of defiance in the face of hatred and bigotry." About 50 students, faculty, staff, and local residents attended, according to a Rowan spokesman.


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