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Swastikas on Vanderbilt Jewish Fraternity House

Alpha Epsilon Pi residence vandalized during weekend party

Stephanie Butnick
March 18, 2015
Vanderbilt University. (Wikimedia Commons)
Vanderbilt University. (Wikimedia Commons)

Three spray painted swastikas were discovered inside the Alpha Epsilon Pi house at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., early Saturday morning after a party thrown by the Jewish fraternity. Two swastikas were inside an elevator in the house and a third was on the basement door. University administrators have condemned the vandalism, which campus police are investigating as a hate crime.

According to the Vanderbilt Hustler, the school’s student newspaper, Vanderbilt’s three Greek councils issued a statement calling the incident “insensitive, appalling, and disgusting.” The school’s Jewish community leaders have spoken out as well.

“Vanderbilt Hillel, Chabad, and the rest of the Jewish community on campus stands firmly with AEPi,” Vanderbilt Hillel executive director Ari Dubin told the Hustler. “While the swastikas were spray-painted at the AEPi house, this inexcusable incident impacts every Jew on campus, and has no place at Vanderbilt.”

Josh Hyman, president of the Vanderbilt AEPi chapter, said in a statement, “As brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi, we are resolved not to let these actions define us as Vanderbilt students or as Jews. We are going to work harder to build bridges throughout the Vanderbilt campus to fight anti-Semitism and hate of all kinds. We are proud of who we are and will not let a criminal with a can of spray paint make us afraid or build tensions on our campus.”

Last month’s National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students reported that anti-Semitism was on the rise at American college campuses, with an average of 54 percent of 1,157 college students polled saying they’d experienced anti-Semitism during the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year. Swastikas were spray painted outside the house of the University of Oregon AEPi chapter in July 2014, the second of such incidents in recent years.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.