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Anti-semitic Graffiti found at AEPi House

By Emily Sorkin Smith

Section: News

April 8, 2016

A swastika was found drawn in the condensation on a window at the Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) Fraternity House on South Street Friday night. AEPi is a Jewish fraternity which was hosting an unofficial event when students found the graffiti, according to an email from Interim President Lisa Lynch condemning the “malicious action.”

Brandeis reported the incident to the Waltham police, and Lynch said she asked to receive updates on an investigation and would report back to the community.

This academic year there have been multiple incidents off-campus, including several incidents of indecent exposure. “Sometimes our off-campus community is overlooked,” said Student Union Vice President David Herbstritt ’17 in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot. Safety incidents, like the six incidents of indecent exposure this semester and the recent car accident, have caused concern among students.

“I think the Waltham Police Department is kinda letting us down in a lot of ways,” Herbstritt explained. “Brandeis Police have a very limited jurisdiction, they really only have power over university property, so … there’s not much they can do.”

Approximately 20 percent of undergraduate students live off campus. The Waltham Police and Fire Department collaborates with university police to ensure safety off campus, according to Chief of Police Ed Callahan. Herbstritt said the university is working to install new lighting on South Street and put in place other safety measures for its off campus students.

The Student Union of Brandeis University published a statement on their Facebook page in condemnation of the graffiti. Brandeis student groups such as J Street U, BIPAC and Hillel also condemned the graffiti.

“Our campus and community extend beyond our physical borders, and we must all stand up against hate speech in any and every form, whether in paint or window condensation, at all times,” read the Union’s statement. They reminded students of the resources available to them, such as the Psychological Counseling Center and the university police.

Student leaders and administrators expressed their belief that, despite this incident, anti-Semitism is not an issue of huge concern on this campus. “This off campus incident is the first overt act of anti­-Semitism I can recall connected to Brandeis,” wrote Dean of Students Jamele Adams in an email to The Hoot.

“I most certainly do not think that anti-Semitism is a big issue at Brandeis,” argued Vice President of CAASE Daniel Shpilsky ’18. “However, I think a swastika is a swastika and this incident should be addressed in a way that ensures that this is the last incident of its kind on this campus.”

Lynch and other administrators publicly condemned the graffiti, but reiterated their commitment to open dialogue and discourse.

“Universities must guard free speech and academic freedom. We must be open to hearing views and messages that make us uncomfortable, and that challenge even our most deeply held beliefs. We must even allow speech that may be personally abhorrent, and defend our peers in their right to do so,” wrote Vice President of Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel in an email to The Hoot.

“No matter the medium, hate speech is hate speech,” Herbstritt argued.

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