February 24, 2008
Posted by Sam Jackson
There were a fair number of Yale Daily News stories last semester about various incidents of news-worthy intolerance; this sad trend seems to have continued this term with the "We Love Yale Sluts" debacle where, for those unfamiliar, a group of Zeta Psi fraternity pledges posted photos on Facebook of themselves holding a sign with that moniker outside the Yale Women's Center, causing quite a few problems for themselves and quite a lot of talk on campus.
I received an e-mail this evening from one of the Yale mailing lists I'm on with this disturbing message:
I am writing to let you know that, on Friday night, some of my close friends discovered a swastika and the "SS" symbol written in packed snow on a tree on Old Campus. The Yale Police were notified and the graffiti was removed, but I think it behooves us all to not let this disturbing event go unnoticed. It is shocking for these kinds of hateful images to appear anywhere, but it is even more disturbing when it is within the locked gates of Old Campus. I don't think anyone can even speculate as to who did this, but we should be loud and insistent that it is completely intolerable.
Pictures of the tree were taken as evidence, and I've attached them below. May this be the last hateful image we have to see on our campus.
I will try to write more about this and the other sad events sometime soon--it's an issue that I have really wanted to address, and has really been on my mind in the last couple of days in general. For now I just wanted to get the word out about what happened, to initiate discussions about it.
Update: the Dean sent out an email, it is attached below.
Dear Yale College Students:
Over the weekend students and others forwarded to the Yale College Dean's Office photographs of trees on the Old Campus on which a swastika and other Nazi symbols appeared. This disturbing incident is not the first aimed at specific groups of students on our campus this academic year. As you are well aware, in recent months students have discovered racist and homophobic graffiti spray-painted on University walls, and a group of individuals held a sign containing a sexist slogan in front of the Women's Center.
Even on a campus committed to freedom of expression, acts such as these are offensive and corrode the spirit of community so cherished at Yale. We do not know who is responsible for some of these offensive acts, but I implore all members of our community to consider the impact of words and actions on others and to treat each other with dignity and respect.
If you become aware of incidents such as those described above, report them to the Yale University Police, who will investigate whether a crime has been committed and, if so, will attempt to identify the perpetrator. You should also contact your college master or dean and Marichal Gentry, the Dean of Student Affairs, who convened a committee last semester that developed a protocol guiding our response to such incidents.
My colleagues and I join with others on campus in condemning these deplorable acts.
Dean of Yale College
Update: Hillel also sent out an email, also attached:
Dear Yale Hillel Community,
Many of you no doubt already know that several Nazi symbols were pasted in snow on Old Campus trees this past Friday evening. We condemn in the strongest possible terms both this act and the ideology it stands for. This isolated incident is not representative of any wider anti-Semitic trends or overtones within the Yale community. That said, there are also other groups at Yale who have been and continue to be hurt and marginalized both by hate speech and other types of unacceptable behavior. We are unequivocally opposed to all such acts of hatred. Students wishing to talk about these recent events or with any questions or concerns should not hesitate to contact either board or staff members.
The Yale Hillel Board
Photos are attached after the break.
Please feel free to comment here with your thoughts on this and related issues. This isn't something that should be ignored or lightly brushed off.