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Swastika drawings found outside dorm rooms of 2 University of Miami students

Charles Rabin, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

MIAMI -- The University of Miami is the latest place to be hit by a national surge in anti-Semitic vandalism.

In separate events four days apart last week at two residential colleges on the Coral Gables campus, someone drew swastikas on a board outside the dorm rooms of two female students. The offensive symbols showed up April 10 and April 14 during the same week as Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In one of the incidents, sexual comments were included. Rabbi Mendy Fellig, who runs Chabad at the University of Miami, called it an unusual event at a school where he has counseled students and staff for decades.

"This is not behavior that fits at the University of Miami community," Fellig said. "We're a very giving and accepting community. This is an anomaly."

University of Miami police, who are looking into the incidents, refused comment. A university spokesman also refused to provide additional details, referring questions to a one-page letter penned by UM President Julio Frenk, who promised that anyone found to have drawn the swastikas will be held accountable.

"The University of Miami embraces the rich diversity of our community and promotes a climate of respect for the dignity of every person," Frenk wrote to UM students. "We know that the vast majority of the members of our community adhere to these core principles. Sadly, we sometimes encounter acts of discrimination, intolerance and hatred, which do not represent who we are and must be met with a firm response."

As of Monday, police had not apprehended a suspect.

In late February the Anti-Defamation League released the results of an audit for all of 2017 and reported that Anti-Semitic attacks had risen by more than 60 percent from the previous year, the highest total since it began recording results in 1979. In all, the organization said 1,986 acts of vandalism, harassment or assault were reported to the ADL by law enforcement.

Fellig, the UM Chabad leader, said the school is taking the incidents very seriously. "It could be anything from nefarious to silly students just doing something they don't understand."

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