Swastikas were seen on walls inside Powdermaker Hall during the week of Kristallnacht, an annual event that calls awareness to Nov. 9, 1938, when the Nazis coordinated an attack on Jews and their property in Germany.
“The discovery of swastikas on campus particularly during the week commemorating Kristallnacht and the start of the Holocaust is disturbing,” said Steven Appel, assistant director of the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding at Queens College. “As someone who lost family members in the Holocaust, I am pained by the news.”
Uri Cohen, the executive director of QC’s Hillel, said such behavior is a step back on what is typically a peaceful and respectful campus because of its noted diversity of students. Hillel strongly condemned the action, along with any acts of hatred and bigotry.
“Behavior like this comes from ignorance,” Cohen said. “The work that QC does to foster diversity and interaction between groups so that they get to learn we’re really all pretty similar with differences worth celebrating is the most important we can do.”
From a personal standpoint, Cohen feels these actions were “negligible” and is not worried too much that they will continue.
Word regarding the swastikas has not reached many students. Cohen has not heard from any students who saw the images but is comforted by the notion that the administration has indicated its full support of a vibrant Jewish community within the school.
“Hateful and angry voices such as these will not deter us from continuing to build a peaceful and constructive campus community for all,” Cohen said.
Ilana Barta, a junior, was stunned to hear that something so “horrifying” could be placed on the school’s walls and said the symbols represent hatred for not just those of the Jewish culture but for all.
“Everybody should be alarmed when people in the area are basing hatred off of something as superficial as religion or race,” Barta said. “I hope we come to learn from this, learn from each other, take a lesson from history and put it to something useful. There’s no place for that sort of hatred in the world.”