San Jose State students found two swastikas and “hateful language” in campus dorms Tuesday, prompting an investigation.
The Nazi insignias were found in freshman quarters at Washburn Hall and Campus Village, according to the university’s new president, Mary Papazian. One of the symbols was formed using name tags from the room doors and accompanied by the phrase, “Admit One Jew.” The other was drawn with marker on a white board in a residence hall suite.
Papazian sent an update to students and faculty later in the day Thursday to announce that the school had identified the students responsible for the vandalism. Though the incidents were bias-based, she said, police determined that they fell short of a hate crime because they targeted no one in particular.
“I am both saddened and outraged by this news,” Papazian wrote in a campus-wide email on Wednesday. “Although I am in Long Beach for CSU meetings, I have spoken with campus and community leaders and shared our resolve to provide a safe learning environment where difficult issues can be addressed collaboratively and transparently.”
This week’s incident bears troubling similarity to a hate crime that shook the SJSU campus in 2013. In that case, three freshmen students were found guilty of misdemeanor battery for relentlessly bullying a black classmate. They clamped a bike lock around his neck and called him “three-fifths,” a reference to America’s history of slavery. They also marked up the campus suite with racist graffiti, including a swastika.
The university hired a chief diversity officer, Kathleen Wong Lau, soon after a trial on the matter ended earlier this year. On Wednesday, she met with students to talk about the latest incident.
When she returned from her trip to SoCal, Papazian spoke with faculty, local civil rights leaders, reporters and students. She also scheduled a meeting to discuss the campus climate on Sept. 29 and a town hall forum with students on Oct. 5.
“We all want to understand and make sense of these deeply disturbing acts,” she wrote in a Thursday afternoon bulletin. “I’ve been reminded by several of you that symbols and words can carry different meaning and significance depending on one’s age, ethnicity, race, gender, faith and other factors.”
University officials ask anyone with information about who left the swastikas and hate speech in the dorms this week to call campus police at 408.924.2222.
This article has been updated.