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New School Dorms Vandalized With Swastikas

By Danielle Tcholakian | November 14, 2016 2:34pm
 The vandalized dorms are inside the New School's new University Center at 14th Street and Fifth Avenue.
The vandalized dorms are inside the New School's new University Center at 14th Street and Fifth Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Heather Holland

GREENWICH VILLAGE — All-female dorm rooms at the New School housing LGBTQ and Jewish students, as well as women of color, were vandalized with swastikas over the weekend, according to social media and student press reports.

The dorms were in Kerrey Hall, a new residence in the university's new building at Fifth Avenue and 14th Street, the New School Free Press reported.

The doors of the dorm rooms are made of whiteboard material, according to the New School Free Press, and students are encouraged to write positive messages on one another's doors.

Students woke to the swastikas Saturday morning, the New School Free Press reported.

“I took a picture, sent it in a group message to my suitemates and erased it out of shame,” junior Parsons fashion design major Lizzy Katz told the Free Press. “That’s not something I want on my door if I don’t have to have it on my door.”

Katz told the Free Press she reported the graffiti to campus security around 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Another Parsons junior, Sam Lichtenstein, tweeted a photo of the swastika.

 

 

University president David Van Zandt retweeted Lichtenstein, deeming the graffiti "abhorrent."

 

 

Mayor Bill de Blasio also responded to the tweet.

 

 

The NYPD was investigating the incident, but there were no security cameras in the dorm hallways and no witnesses, police said.

The New School has a history of being a refuge for Jewish intellectuals persecuted in Europe during World War II, and has a social research center named for Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt, who taught there after the war.

On Twitter, Van Zandt thanked de Blasio for his "leadership in support of tolerance and social justice in our NYC," adding, "This is so important."

Van Zandt also sent a memo to the school community regarding the incident, reprinted by the Free Press:

"I have just learned of the defacement of four dormitory doors on our campus with a symbol intended to threaten and express hatred toward some of our students because of their identities.  Our community standards are very strong and hate crimes are unacceptable at The New School. The New School is committed to tolerance, respect, and diversity. Any form of expression that denigrates members of our community based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual or gender identity, or political beliefs is completely abhorrent and antithetical to our core values. We take any such instance seriously, investigate swiftly, and take appropriate action to ensure the security and safety of all our students."

Reports of hate-motivated attacks have been on the rise nationwide since Donald Trump was elected president last week, according to social media and news outlets around the country.

In a subsequent message to the university, also shared on Twitter, Van Zandt said the NYPD is investigating the incident with the cooperation of the school.

"Any attempt to discriminate, instill fear in or intimidate our students will result in serious and swift consequences both from the NYPD and The New School," Van Zandt wrote.

He added that security on campus has been increased and staff and faculty "are on alert for any potential issues."

"I assure you that your safety is my highest priority right now," he continued.

Here's his full message: