Apparent Anti-Semitic, Racist Vandalism Riles Scripps

Scripps College is currently investigating two different incidents of vandalism, one of which involves someone posting a flyer (pictured above) with apparent anti-Semitic commentary on a Jewish student’s door, and another where racist graffiti was written on flyers affixed to a bulletin board. (Photo courtesy of anonymous student)

Scripps College is currently investigating two separate incidents of vandalism — one that seems to be anti-Semitic and one which involved racist language — directed at individual students, Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson announced in an email to students Thursday morning.

In the first incident, someone posted a flyer for a Claremont Hillel event about Israel, marked up with pro-Palestinian messages and an accusation of white supremacy, on a Jewish Scripps senior’s door and wrote on the student’s whiteboard Monday.

The student, who is a former Hillel president, told TSL she has deliberately kept her views on Israel private at Scripps, and that the incident is therefore blatantly anti-Semitic.

“I’m not involved, nor have I ever been involved, in any of the Israel organizing on campus,” said the student, who requested to remain anonymous. “I’ve so explicitly stayed out of that. It’s definitely because I was Hillel president” that she was targeted, she said.

She said that she kept her views private so “any Jewish student [could] feel comfortable speaking to me about any topic,” including Israel, without feeling like they would be coming into conflict with her.

While Claremont Hillel is a Jewish student organization and does not list an official position on Israel or Zionism and is not a pro-Zionist advocacy organization, Hillel International, its parent organization, does hold a pro-Israel position.

“It’s cut-and-dry anti-Semitism because someone targeted Hillel,” she said. “To have someone act … based on perceived political perspectives is very upsetting.”

Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine wrote in an email to TSL that the incident was not affiliated with SJP, that “we firmly believe that the Jewish people are not uniformly responsible for acts of the State of Israel,” and “we condemn all acts of discrimination which of course includes acts of anti-Semitism.”

In the second incident, “racist graffiti was written on flyers affixed to a bulletin board” on the door to a Scripps Resident Advisor’s room at the Claremont Graduate University apartments, where a group of first-years and two RAs are currently living, according to Johnson’s email.

The CGU RAs declined to comment.

The Jewish student said Monday’s incident was not her first anti-Semitic experience on Scripps’ campus. She said students have taken Hillel fliers off her door and someone on the Scripps quad once screamed “fuck Jews, fuck Zionism” at her.

“This is by no means the worst anti-Semitism that’s happened to me,” she said. “There is a huge problem with campus climate. … There is definitely a trend going on, and I wish that it was taken a lot more seriously by students, by administrators, and by members of the community.”

The student said she wished the people who put the flyer on her door had spoken to her about their issues with Hillel or her personally, rather than using vandalism to convey their point.

“It’s really disappointing that the Scripps community doesn’t feel they can [talk to me] or they feel that that’s the way they need to take out anger,” she said. “And it’s just upsetting that someone would feel that strongly about me as an individual that they would go that route.”

The student also said she is disappointed in the response she has received from Scripps administrators.

She said she did not feel administrators had adequately followed up with her about how she wanted to respond to the incident, and she felt she had to push administrators to take action, including sending the email to students about the incident.

“I think that the problem is that the Scripps administration is only going to do what they legally feel like they have to do,” she said.

In her email to students, Johnson expressed her support for the students reporting the two incidents.

“Harassing an individual or group because of their religious beliefs, race, or ethnicity is never okay, and is contrary to the values of the Scripps community,” she wrote.

Johnson encouraged any student with information about either vandalism investigation to contact Title IX officer Sally Steffen. Campus Safety director Stan Skipworth said neither incident had been reported to or was being investigated by Campus Safety.

Jewish Chaplain and Hillel Director Danny Shapiro called the incident anti-Semitic.

“Under no circumstances is it appropriate to target or harass students based on their religion, nationality or ethnicity,” Shapiro wrote in an email to TSL. “Hillel is working to support the victim and all students, as we work to build a campus where diversity is respected and differing opinions are expressed through productive dialogue.”

The former Hillel president said she reported the incident in part to push for greater institutional change and support for Jewish students at Scripps.

The incident may not be the first of its kind at the 5Cs this semester.

During spring break, a mezuzah — a Jewish religious item traditionally placed on doorframes — was removed from a dorm room door, Pitzer College Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Marchant announced in a March 28 email to students.

Pitzer’s investigation of the incident is ongoing as of Thursday, according to Marchant.

“While it is hoped that its disappearance is simply a misunderstanding, if the mezuzah was removed and taken intentionally it is not only an act of theft, but it could be considered a bias-related incident,” Marchant wrote in the March 28 email.

Samuel Breslow contributed reporting.

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