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Two weeks after swastika incident, school remains tight-lipped about investigation

Campus police lead inquiry, but little is known after half a month

Smith College, the elite all-girls private school in Northampton, Massachusetts, is refusing to discuss an investigation into several swastikas found painted around the college’s campus two weeks after the symbols were discovered.

The swastika graffiti was found on Oct. 24. In all, ten of the Nazi symbols were eventually discovered on three separate campus buildings. The symbols, drawn with red marker, were quickly removed by the college. According to news reports, an investigation into the incident was immediately launched by the Smith College Campus Police in coordination with the Northampton Police Department.

Reached via email, campus spokeswoman Stacey Schmeidel told The College Fix that “an immediate investigation was initiated in coordination w/NPD” but that “the investigation is now being led by Smith College Campus Police.” An official with the Northampton Police Department confirmed that the department is not involved with the investigation at all.

Schmeidel did not respond to questions about the ongoing inquiry on Wednesday. She did provide The Fix with a link to a page on the college’s website addressing the incident. That page reports that Smith’s Office of Equity and Inclusion is participating in the active investigation with help from the Anti-Defamation League, the latter of which initially “recorded details of the incident and offered support.”

In an email interview with The College Fix, ADL New England Associate Regional Director Melissa Kraus said the organization “appreciate[s] Smith’s swift response to this incident and their investigation. The Smith community has come out in support of the Jewish students, sending a clear message that acts of hate will not be tolerated.”

“We are disheartened that swastikas were found across Smith’s campus. No student should feel unsafe on campus, and vandalism like this is an attack on Jewish students and the entire campus community,” she added.

Smith’s president, Kathleen McCartney, joined the ADL in condemning the Nazi graffiti. In a letter to the college, McCartney called the perpetrators cowards and denounced the Nazi drawings.

“I condemn in the strongest terms this act of hatred and cowardice. I also recognize that these are not just marks on a wall but attacks on our community and the values we hold central to our shared humanity. Hate has no place at Smith,” she wrote.

The College Fix called McCartney’s office seeking more information about the incident. Administrative assistant Kim Jurado said McCartney was traveling and unavailable for comment on the status of the investigation.

School responds with increased police presence, emotional support

The school said on its website that, in response to the incident, campus police will offer “patrols and presence at specific events if requested.” In addition, Smith College has offered, and will continue offering, multiple events in order to “[support] students and other members of the campus community,” including a “Smith in Solidarity” gathering, a Jewish Shabbat dinner, and a lecture on the Holocaust delivered by Rutgers Professor Nancy Sinkoff.

Coming events are set to include a screening of the documentary film “Unsettling” followed by a discussion. The school will also present a lecture by Rachel Rubinstien titled “Thinking Through Race,” designed to examine “the place of Jews in the story of race and racial formation in the US.”

The school also encouraged community members to post their support on social media using the hashtag #SmithRejectsHate. “These messages will be shared with members of the Jewish community, the Office of Equity and Inclusion and others on campus affected by this incident,” the website states.

MORE: Man charged in campus swastika vandalism is black former employee

MORE: Freshman who burned swastika into residence hall is charged with hate crime

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