A University of Minnesota student’s Facebook post showing anti-Semitic graffiti in his dorm room drew outraged responses on Thursday.
U freshman Avi Shaver said someone drew a swastika and a concentration camp on a white board located inside his room in Pioneer Hall, on the Minneapolis campus. The board also had “Nazis rule” scrawled across it.
Shaver said he was gone most of Wednesday and found the graffiti late that evening. He said the lock on his room didn’t seem to be tampered with and that none of his roommates remembers leaving the door unlocked.
Shaver said the school has since replaced the locks on his dorm door.
In a public Facebook post, Shaver questioned the alleged perpetrator’s motive.
“Do you feel empowered doing this?” he wrote. “What benefit do you gain by making a person feel afraid?”
Shaver’s post has garnered nearly 1,000 “likes” and dozens of comments.
Shaver said that he is very open about his Jewish identity and that he decided to share the image on Facebook because he hoped it would be a learning experience about tolerance.
“I think it’s good that people understand what’s going on,” he said.
Shaver, who grew up in St. Louis Park, said he’s never been subjected to anti-Semitic comments before. He said the university is “incredibly open” and diverse.
Many on social media and members of the Jewish community decried the graffiti.
“We are deeply concerned by this incident and we urge anyone with information about the vandalism to come forward and report it to law enforcement,” said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, in a Thursday news release.
Minnesota Hillel, a campus Jewish group, will stress the importance of supporting one another at its weekly Shabbat event, said Executive Director Benjie Kaplan.
“It’s important to come together as a community,” Kaplan said.
Student board members planned to meet Thursday evening to discuss the incident, he said.
Kaplan said the graffiti is unusual in that it singles out one student, whereas previous anti-Semitic actions on campus, including a swastika drawn in the snow at the practice football field last month, have been more broad. Kaplan said targeted groups can do more to support one another.
In a Thursday statement, the university’s Bias Response and Referral Network (BRRN) wrote that the school has reached out to Shaver and his family and offered its support.
“While it was not an isolated incident — the BRRN has received a total of seven reports involving swastikas, neo-Nazi propaganda, and other anti-Semitic graffiti since the beginning of December — this case was particularly disturbing as it was seemingly directed towards a specific person,” the statement read.
The school has already addressed and responded to the seven earlier reports.
“The University of Minnesota condemns all acts of hate on our campus,” the statement read. “We are a community that values respect, inclusion and diversity.”
Haley Hansen is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.