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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac sees spike in on-campus vandalism

Officials reported 13 incidents of vandalism — including one incident of antisemitic graffiti — in February alone
Jack Muscatello

Although the month of February is typically characterized by Valentine’s Day festivities, it was a much more malicious v-word that defined the first full month of Quinnipiac University’s spring 2024 semester: vandalism.

As mandated by federal law, the Department of Public Safety publicly discloses all on-campus crimes, including vandalism, in Quinnipiac’s daily crime log. Vandalism accounted for over 40% of all logged campus crimes last month, with Quinnipiac officials recording an unprecedented 13 incidents of vandalism in the shortest month of the year. 

For perspective, between Sept. 9 and Oct. 22 of last year — a period two weeks longer than the month of February — Quinnipiac’s crime log identified just 12 incidents of vandalism. 

To put this another way: campus officials went from reporting an average of two incidents of vandalism per week last fall to reporting vandalism nearly every other day last month. 

And in a repeat of last semester, it was an incident of bias-motivated vandalism that garnered the most attention.

In late February, Public Safety and Hamden police opened an investigation into another incident of on-campus antisemitic graffiti — the third since November — after discovering a swastika and other anti-Jewish hate speech carved into a bathroom stall in M&T Bank Arena. 

“It’s terrible to see vandalism (in) any form, but especially when it is targeting other members of our school community,” wrote Leigha Scheman, a first-year in the 3+2 master of social work program, in a text message statement to The Chronicle.

In a Feb. 27 email condemning the antisemitic vandalism, Chief Experience Officer Tom Ellett and Chief of Public Safety Tony Reyes said campus officials would make “every effort to identify and discipline the perpetrators.”

“Such hate speech is abhorrent, it can be threatening, and it violates QU’s code of conduct,” Ellett and Reyes wrote. “Hate speech and symbols that evoke violence have no place anywhere and will not be tolerated. They aren’t who we are or aspire to be.”

Photos of the vandalized stall show that the antisemitic graffiti invoked Hitler and the white supremacist dog whistle “1488.” The “14” is a reference to the “14 Words” slogan — “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” — and the “88” is a numerical code for “Heil Hitler.” 

The vandalism also referenced Ye, the American musician formerly known as Kanye West. Ye has repeatedly faced public backlash for his antisemitic comments — most notably for an October 2022 social media post in which he threatened to go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.”

The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism later found that antisemitic incidents frequently invoke Ye’s name, noting that “references to Ye, often paired with swastikas or other antisemitic slurs, have become mainstream shorthand for the hatred of — or a desire to commit violence against — Jewish people.”

“I don’t understand how people could think or speak this way,” wrote Haley Organ, a senior theater major, in a text message statement to The Chronicle. “I think they hold baseless hatred that causes them to act out, threaten the safety of others, and deface school property.”

The Feb. 27 incident came less than four months after officials on two separate occasions found swastikas scratched into mail lockers in the Rocky Top Student Center. For context, Quinnipiac’s most recent annual security reports indicate that, prior to the fall semester, campus officials had not reported an incident of bias-motivated vandalism since 2019. 

“The recent on campus antisemitism has definitely created a lot of anxiety for a lot of people,” Organ wrote. “It doesn’t really feel safe.”

Scheman expressed similar safety concerns amid the rise in anti-Jewish rhetoric on campus.

“Truthfully, with the increase in hate speech there are times I do not feel as safe as I should on campus,” Scheman wrote.  “And it seems as if nothing is being done to stop this propaganda — as it continues to happen.”

Gabriel Kahaleh, a senior political science major, echoed Scheman’s criticisms of the university’s administration’s response.

“It feels like they’re making it a big deal because they have to, but they don’t care, I don’t think,” Kahaleh said. “It feels normalized.”

Quinnipiac is far from the only campus experiencing a seemingly sudden rise in anti-Jewish sentiment — the recent wave of antisemitism is emblematic of the national spike in antisemitic and Islamophobic hate incidents triggered by the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

“I think it’s a symptom of a larger issue,” Kahaleh said. “It’s not a Quinnipiac problem — I think this is a United States of America problem.”

But the antisemitic graffiti in M&T Bank Arena was just one of the 13 incidents of on-campus vandalism reported last month. 

Seven of these incidents occurred in The Ledges Residence Hall, where vandalism has posed a consistent problem since August. 

The remaining five incidents occurred in five separate locations: two Mount Carmel Campus residence halls, two parking lots and the York Hill Campus facilities building. 

Few other details were available about these incidents, and Reyes has not responded to The Chronicle’s requests for comment.

However, it does not appear as though the wave of on-campus vandalism was confined to the month of February.

Somewhere between 30 and 90 minutes into the month of March, an eighth-floor pool table in the Crescent Residence Hall was vandalized beyond repair. And as of March 5, campus officials have already reported incidents of vandalism in The Ledges and Mountainview residence halls.

In a March 1 email to Crescent’s residents, Kristin Scriven, the residence hall director, and Michael Guthrie, assistant director of residential life, wrote that “this type of behavior, after a relatively peaceful year on York Hill, is disappointing.”

“Vandalism not only damages property but also undermines the trust and sense of belonging within our community,” Scriven and Guthrie wrote. “Please be mindful of your actions and the actions of your neighbors and hold your peers accountable so that this type of behavior doesn’t continue.”

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Cat Murphy
Cat Murphy, News Editor
Jack Muscatello
Jack Muscatello, Digital Managing Editor

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