Hillsdale College’s maintenance employees painted over vulgar and anti-Semitic graffiti in the main-floor men’s restroom in the Grewcock Student Union on Tuesday.
The vandalism included a swastika and profanity directed at President Donald Trump. College administrators said they are aware of the incident and are looking into it.
“Graffiti is just something I have not seen much of in my 16 years,” Dean of Men Aaron Petersen said. “From time to time, I have seen high energy lead to some minor property destruction, but that or graffiti is not something we have seen much of. There’s not a lot of patience for those things in our campus culture.”
The union attracts numerous students and members of faculty and staff as well as campus visitors every day. People first noticed the graffiti Monday afternoon. The maintenance office said it was not aware of the vandalism until a reporter for The Collegian asked about it on Tuesday.
Freshman Sara Garfinkle is an executive board member of Chaverah, Hillsdale’s Jewish club, and said hearing about the graffiti disappointed her.
“I am alarmed to see such blatant anti-Semitism on a college founded on Judeo-Christian values,” Garfinkle said. “Regardless of what the vandal was trying to communicate, the swastika has been used for decades to incite terror in the Jewish people. The swastika is disgusting everywhere. On Hillsdale’s campus, it is unacceptable.”
Since America elected Trump in November, news outlets have reported swastikas and other racially toned messages appearing on high school and college campuses.
Michigan State University announced last month that it was banning whiteboards in dorms, after students allegedly wrote racial slurs on them outside other students’ rooms.
In Hillsdale’s McIntyre Residence, the college put a whiteboard outside of each room after it renovated the dorm in 2015. House Director Teresa Martin, however, said she has never seen discriminatory words written on the boards.
“I would think coming to Hillsdale College, after you sign the honor code, that you would refrain from things like that,” Martin said. “We have never had that happen here in this dorm.”
There have been a couple instances of profanity, Martin said, but she or a resident assistant just erases the words.
The whiteboards help establish a sense of community in the dorm, giving friends a fun way to interact, McIntyre Head R.A. senior Bilyana Petkova said. She said she has never seen the whiteboards used for anything unkind or insensitive. Instead, the women use them to write their names in foreign languages, write Bible verses, leave messages to friends, or draw pictures.
“Hillsdale is a close-knit community,” Petkova said. “We have the honor code in place. I think everyone is trying to be helpful and friendly, and the upperclassmen lead by example… I, as an international student, have never had a problem with someone insulting me, much less leaving a note. So I don’t think Hillsdale has that problem with racial or any other type of discrimination.”