A swastika covers a drawing of a crow in the Church Fine Art's graffiti wall exhibit.
File Photo/Nevada Sagebrush
A swastika painted over graffiti in the Church of Fine Arts Building on Friday, Oct. 13. A swastika was discovered in Wolf Pack Tower on Saturday, Aug. 24.

Wolf Pack Tower was subject to an act of vandalism in which a swastika was found painted in the stairwell by the seventeenth floor of the tower, within a week of the tower’s opening.

According to Toby Toland, resident director for University of Nevada, Reno’s Residential Life, a swastika was found in Wolf Pack Tower, on Saturday, Aug. 24 within a week of the tower’s opening.

In response to the vandalism, Wolf Pack Tower called for a mandatory meeting on Sunday, Aug. 25 to address the incident. Residents and staff were in attendance.

“While University Police Services are not 100 percent sure that the swastika was not already in the stairwell before our transition of the building into student housing, University Residential Life and Housing is enacting all protocols because of the University’s commitment to inclusion and diversity,” said Nicole Shearer, Communications Officer of the university.

There is no video footage available in the stairwell area where the swastika was found, according to University Police Services

“The swastika represents Nazi’s and other current hate groups who encourage discrimination and violence against many underrepresented populations and has no place in our campus community,” said Toby Toland, resident director for Residential Life in an email. “This and other acts of hate and discrimination not only create an environment of hostility, but are a violation of university policy.”

Once evidence and photographs were collected, the vandalism was repaired by facilities staff.

This is not the first incident of swastika vandalism that has occurred around the university. Acts of anti-semitism on campus have happened since 2011.

On Oct. 13, 2017, the same day of a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead and six others injured, an unknown student carved a swastika into a wall with a pencil in Peavine Hall.  A swastika was also found drawn on Juniper Hall earlier this year on March 8.

Additionally, an unknown student tagged the Church Fine Art’s graffiti stairwell—a place where  students decorate walls with murals—with swastikas and a message that said “is this political enough?” in October 2017.  In response, the College of Liberal Arts invited artists in the community to paint over the swastikas.

“It’s crazy that this incident happened right after we moved in,” Wolf Pack Tower resident Maximus Moore said. “I have heard of other things like this happening in previous years at UNR, but it’s different when it happens in your home. People may think that drawing a swastika is funny but it’s not a joke at all and shouldn’t be taken lightly. There is so much hate associated with that symbol towards Jewish people. I feel like the university should take more action towards preventing this and making sure all students feel safe and welcome.”

Going forward, the staff within the Department of Residential Life, in conjunction with various partners, will provide educational opportunities around the areas of diversity, social justice and inclusion for students. 

“One of our best ways to combat incidents of hate and bigotry is through education. We encourage students to attend, and offer suggestions for additional events that they think would be beneficial. Additionally, we will continue to make every effort to monitor and confront statements and acts of discrimination,” said Toland.

“We need your help both as individuals and as a community,” Toland said in an email sent to Wolf Pack Tower Resident Hall Advisors and Resident Hall Directors. “We ask that you all come together and hold each other accountable. If you or someone close to you is subject to any form of discrimination, please reach out to a student staff member or your Resident Directors for additional support. You may also report through the Title IX office in the Continuing Education building or through their website.”

The Residence Hall Association will be working in conjunction with  the Associated Students of the University of Nevada to provide a response of support in reaction to this event and are evaluating ways in which they can advocate for all students. 

Students are encouraged to take the opportunity to let ASUN hear their concerns and how they would like their elected advocates to respond to this incident on their behalf.

Kennady Pine can be reached at kpine@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter at the @NevadaSagebrush