April 1, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 38°F


Anti-Semitic graffiti hits East Tower

Two members of Alpha Epsilon Pi, an international Jewish fraternity, woke on April 21 to find “Heil Hitler,” “666” and a swastika in dripping red paint defacing their door.

Though the occupants of room 711 of East Tower —  freshmen Ross Sugarman and Josh Bond — were enraged by the graffiti, they said they didn’t necessarily feel threatened.

“I do think it’s singling us out,” Sugarman said. “I don’t really feel threatened by it”

Bond said the incident was alarming, but he feels safe as long as the culprit leaves him, his roommate and the fraternity alone.

Most members of the Ithaca College community may not be aware of the infraction, because the college did not publicize it via a Public Safety Alert.

Investigator Tom Dunn said the swastika incident is not considered a potentially dangerous or ongoing threat.

Terri Stewart, director of the Office of Public Safety and emergency management, said the investigation into the case is ongoing and officers are working tirelessly on the case.

“Everyone here cannot imagine the incredible amount of resources that has gone into this investigation to the extent that we have put a couple officers on this full time and brought them in on off time to find out who’s responsible,” Stewart said. 

In a separate incident on April 20, one day before the swastika graffiti appeared, “threatening graffiti” was found in a classroom in Friends Hall. In that instance, a Public Safety Alert was sent to the community, though Public Safety declined to release the contents of the graffiti.

As of 2006, the etching, painting, drawing or placing of a swastika on public or private property without the owner’s permission is considered a felony in the state of New York and is punishable by up to four years in prison.

“Most of us would recognize a hate crime as a swastika,” Stewart said during the first open “Conversations With Public Safety” on Tuesday. However, she continued to say deciding whether to classify this incident as a hate crime is a complicated process.

In specific situations, such as hate crimes, Public Safety is required to disseminate certain information, according to the Clery Act, which is an act put in place by the Board of Education to ensure that Title IV institutions, such as Ithaca College, inform the community of select events in a timely manner.

“Whether [the swastika incident] rises to the level of a hate crime in New York state or whether that meets the threshold of a hate crime in the Clery Act are two different things,” Stewart said.

Freshman Daniel Bender, who attended the event, said he was troubled by Public Safety’s handling of the situation.

“It’s concerning to me that anti-Semitic acts occurred on campus, but the community hasn’t been alerted,” he said.

Freshman Peter Boyle, who lives next to Sugarman and Bond, said this occurrence is important for the community to know about.

“If they send out messages about broken elevators and ruined ground lounges, I think they should send a message about this,” Boyle said. “This is more important. This isn’t only an act of vandalism — it’s an act of hatred, and it’s threatening.”


This article was updated at 4 p.m. with additional information about the status of the case.

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