Vandalism at two WSU campuses is just one example of rise in incidents across US
Oct 6, 2023, 5:31 PM | Updated: 5:44 pm
LAYTON — A second swastika found within about as many weeks on campuses of Weber State University has people in the Jewish community concerned about what they see as an increased tolerance for hate.
Liz Paige, Associate Director for the United Jewish Federation of Utah says incidents like this have gone unchecked for too long.
“Since 2016 we’ve seen a marked increase in antisemitism as well as hate against all groups,” Paige explained. “(There) is an increase in harassment, vandalism, as well as a disturbing increase in acts of violence.”
The first swastika was found on WSU’s main campus inside the Sheperd Student Union building on Yom Kippur, Sept. 24th. The symbol was scratched into a table there. The second incidence was found also scratched into a table at the school’s Davis campus about ten days later, with a Star of David etched in next to the swastika.
“Targeting one group with symbols of violence is intended to create fear and intimidation,” Paige said. “But it also is intended to really destroy all that our country stands for.”
According to a report by the Anti-Defamation League, the number of antisemitic incidents across the country rose 36% in 2022 from the year before, at 3,967 total incidents: their highest recorded number ever. Antisemitic vandalism was up 51%. Paige says that everyone needs to play a role in standing against hatred.
“We can’t ignore it,” Paige said. “That’s not going to make something go away. We have to address it head-on.”
Paige adds that parents need to be vigilant and aware that some groups will target kids and teens on social media and through multiplayer video games.
“We have to be concerned about the mental health of our young people,” she explained. “And how susceptible some people are to these calls to join them in hatred because those young people are feeling isolated and left out.”
Weber State University Police say they are adding extra patrols in response to the vandalism and scrubbing through surveillance video to try and find the perpetrator(s). Administrators said previously that they condemn that type of behavior and work to foster an environment of acceptance and inclusion.