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Left: Courtesy of Michelle Abramowitz; Right: Sarah Skinner / Sun Managing Editor

April 14, 2019

Swastika Spotted on Goldwin Smith Hall Exterior, Drawing Concerns About Campus Climate

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On Saturday, a swastika was found emblazoned on the facade of the west side of Goldwin Smith Hall facing the Arts Quad, drawing concerns from students over the current campus climate.

The anti-Semitic symbol, now covered by duct tape, has been there for “quite some time,” said President Martha E. Pollack in a statement sent to the Cornell community Sunday morning. This is not the first time swastikas have been found around campus; three incidents were reported on North Campus this past November.

It is unknown who is responsible for drawing the symbol and who taped over it. The drawing is currently under investigation by the Cornell University Police Department, according to Pollack’s statement. CUPD declined to comment to The Sun on Sunday afternoon.

In an interview with The Sun, President of Cornell Hillel Jillian Shapiro ’20 said that the swastika is indicative of a larger “campus climate” issue.

“We are deeply concerned to learn that a new swastika was once again found on Cornell’s campus … Swastikas are symbols of hate and anti-Semitism; this is an act that should never be tolerated on our campus,” Cornell Hillel said in a statement posted on Facebook Sunday afternoon.

“Just by the very nature that there was a swastika on an Ivy League campus is really troubling, especially considering Jews make up 20 percent of this campus,” Jay Sirot ’19, president of Cornellians for Israel, told The Sun.

Discovery of the swastika came days after the Student Assembly, along with community input, voted to reject Resolution 36, which called for Cornell to divest from companies “profiting from the occupation of Palestine and human rights violations.”

Mahfuza Shovik ’19, S.A. College of Engineering representative and pro-divestment leader, said the organizers of the divestment campaign were motivated to pursue the resolution to “fight and stand against … acts of hatred.”

“Whether it is anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia or any other injustice, we will continue doing the work we do to fight against all forms of hatred,” Shovik told The Sun. “We stand with the Jewish community in this time of pain — it is important for us to fight against these common evils born from far-right extremism together.”

Sirot said that because the timeline of the event is unclear at present, it would be “impossible” to establish a correlation between the most recent S.A. meeting and BDS discussions to the symbol.

“One of the things we did make clear to the Student Assembly is that BDS has led to increased instances of anti-Semitism across the country,” Sirot said. “Unfortunately, regardless of the conversations that happened within the S.A., we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard to ensure that [anti-Semitic acts don’t] continue.”

This story will be updated.