Swastikas Drawn on AEPi Walls

Merely hours after the end of Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days in the Jewish faith, the Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity was the target of “crude, offensive graffiti, including swastikas,” spray painted on their house early Sunday morning, according to an Oct. 5 University press release.

In an email to the Emory community, University President James Wagner condemned the act as “a repugnant, flagrant emblem of anti-Semitism” that is not only an offense to the fraternity and Emory’s Jewish community, but also the entire University.

“Among the many pernicious things the swastika symbolizes, in the last century it represented the most egregious and determined undermining of intellectual freedom and truth-seeking,” Wagner wrote. “In short, its appearance on our campus is an attack against everything for which Emory stands.”

Emory’s AEPi issued a statement on behalf of the entire fraternity thanking the community for its support as well as outrage at what it calls an insensitive display of prejudice.

“We are working alongside Emory to ensure that intolerable acts of hate, such as this, will never occur again,” the statement reads. “We are thankful for the community around us that has shown tremendous support throughout this time.”

Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair wrote in an email to the Wheel that he is deeply disturbed and angered by this incident.

“During my short time at Emory, I’ve learned that we have the ability to grow and develop as a community even in our most difficult moments,” Nair wrote. “I’m sure that Emory’s true character will prevail.”

The Interfraternity Council (IFC) released a statement of solidarity Sunday night, calling the swastikas a horrific violation of the values of the member organizations.

“The Emory fraternal system works to promote an inclusive and tolerant community,” the statement reads. “IFC remains committed to working with organizations across campus in helping to foster a more inclusive environment.”

Many Emory students and organizations have taken to social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to express their take on the situation.

In a Facebook post, College junior Katie Fishbein wrote that seeing the image of swastikas on the AEPi house was terrifying and not in line with the openness and tolerance she experienced on Emory’s campus.

“In my heart of hearts, I know that most Emory students stand for peace and acceptance,” Fishbein wrote. “Make it your personal duty to ensure that ALL students can feel welcomed and loved at Emory.”

Omega Psi Phi fraternity released a similar statement on Sunday:

“In this moment of hardship, The Brothers of the Pi Delta Delta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity stand with the brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi. No one should have to be a victim of injustice and micro-aggressions simply for being who they are. This statement is not for likes, but to shine a light on the ignorance and hate that continues to plague Emory.”

A statement from the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) offered a staunch rejection of what it calls an anti-Semitic message.

“SJP at Emory condemns the recent and abhorrent act of vandalism… [and] categorically rejects all forms of racism and bigotry,” the statement read. “All of these forms of hate dehumanize people, and as advocates for justice and human rights we are committed to speaking out against injustice wherever it appears.”

The Student Government Association (SGA), sent an email Sunday night inviting the Emory community to wear blue on Monday to support Emory’s Jewish community and in condemnation of the “reprehensible act of bigotry” carried out.

College junior Molly Teplitzky, who works with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), wrote in an email to the Wheel that despite the lack of anti-Semitism in the United States compared to other countries, there is still work to be done.

“I certainly will not accept this act of hatred to be pushed under the rug and forgotten in the near future, and I hope the University and Emory community will stand to make a change,” Teplitzky wrote. “No act against any group should be accepted, and I am thankful for the support the Emory campus has shown, from President Wagner’s address to the Student Government promoting the university to wear blue in solidarity with the Jewish community.”

This article will be updated with more information and reactions as they become available.

This article was updated October 6 to include statements from Omega Psi Phi fraternity, SGA, SJP, College junior Molly Teplitzky and College junior Katie Fishbein.

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