The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

How the Antisemitic Graffiti in Hathorn was Discovered

Please be advised that this article contains language talking about antisemitic graffiti.

On March 15, Emily DeLossa ‘24 discovered a swastika in a Hathorn Hall elevator around 2:35 p.m. on her way to meet with her thesis advisor. 

Drawn in pencil, the swastika was so small that DeLossa had a hard time identifying it at first, according to an email DeLossa sent to Associate Vice President for Title IX and Civil Rights Compliance Gwen Lexow. After spotting the swastika, DeLossa informed her thesis advisor who asked to see the antisemitic graffiti. Her thesis advisor took two photos of the swastika and reported it to the Title IX and Civil Rights Compliance Office by sending an email to Lexow.

In an email to DeLossa, Lexow said that she had notified Campus Security and had “asked the facilities services to remove it.” 

While DeLossa shared that the swastika was removed “within 30 minutes of my reporting it to my thesis advisor,” she wrote in an email to The Student that “it is not clear who removed it as Campus Safety and janitorial/maintenance staff at Bates say it was not them.” In an email obtained by The Student, DeLossa wrote that she is “disturbed that an individual on campus decided to partake — even if at a small scale — in antisemitic graffiti.”

 DeLossa added, “Unfortunately, I’ve seen this become so commonplace at other institutions — even those who regard themselves as highly as Bates — through [my] friends and family’s [experiences]. Given recent events, I am not surprised instances of antisemitism are rising on campuses. All we can do is [do] our best to report it and discourage it.” 

The swastika was first reported to the community in an email from President Garry Jenkins on March 18. In his email, Jenkins condemned the act as “hateful” and “cowardly” and promised to install more cameras “across campus to identify vandals.” 

This is the second time this academic year that antisemitic graffiti on campus has been reported to the community.

Following the incident in October the school promised to open an investigation to identify the individual(s) responsible. In an email to The Student the college said, “The investigation into the October incident was unable to identify the person responsible. If additional information about that incident becomes available, we would reopen the investigation.”

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About the Contributor
Lena LaPierre, Assistant Forum Editor
Lena is a sophomore from Hattiesburg, MS, majoring in History with a minor in Russian. When she is not busy writing essays or memorizing Russian grammar rules, Lena can be found reading, volunteering with College Guild and exploring Maine with her friends. Previously, Lena was a contributing writer for The Bates Student.

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    Blair FrankMar 24, 2024 at 4:46 PM

    To the Bates College Board of Trustees and other members of the Bates Community,

    I write today to share that I am disengaging my financial support for the College. This decision saddens me as I consider my financial support for Bates over the past 17 years. I made my first meaningful donation in 2006 to fund a scholarship, and since then I have helped fund the launch the computational sciences major and also endowed 9 more scholarships. In total, my donations have exceeded $4,000,000.

    While the events of 10/7 were horrific, we all knew such evil existed. What followed at many US elite colleges in the days after was almost equally unsettling, especially as a Jewish-American. I was surprised and stunned to see that true evil was condoned and embraced by so many students, professors, and administrators on America’s most storied campuses. It frankly made no sense to me. Searching for answers, I found myself catapulted into a crash course to understand what was driving this behavior. I poured through critiques of intersectionality, anticolonialism, Critical Race Theory, identity politics, and ultimately DEI principles that have been widely adopted in college curriculums. I assumed that I would mostly be reading the product of “right wing” ideologues and racists who reveled in condemning Progressive goals. What I found instead was that the racism, antisemitism, and vitriolic illiberalism that I had comfortably accepted as a tenet of the far right also exists in full bloom among today’s Progressive left. And unfortunately, it has found a warm and welcoming home in America’s colleges.

    While the Ivies and the University of California system are probably the worst and most publicized offenders of tolerating pernicious antisemitism in the wake of the 10/7 massacre, there is plenty of evidence that Bates too has become a college of growing illiberalism and intolerance. In my investigations, I have had shared with me instances where tenured Bates professors have been cowed by illiberal students and administrators for not unquestioningly embracing their beliefs. There was a sense among these professors that challenging their critics would only endanger them further. How chilling it must be for any professor who might want to ask a student to provide critical reasoning behind a statement, much less challenge an orthodoxy. I became aware that a professor, Keith Taylor, was forced out of the college for challenging a student who asserted that Bates is “anti-black and based in white supremacy.” When I attended Bates, that was exactly the kind of challenge I wanted from my professors. Indeed, learning the skills to argue my points in conversation and writing is exactly why I chose to attend a liberal arts college. Bates recently ranked 213 out of 248 colleges in free speech. Student responses to the broadly respected FIRE survey showed considerable fear of speaking anything other than conformance to accepted progressive doctrines. Bates ranked in the bottom 1% for “Comfort Expressing Ideas.” This is not a liberal arts education, it is monoculture farming of an ideology. That it exists is perhaps best reflected by the admission of one of Bates own self-proclaimed leftist professors, Tyler Austin Harper, quoted in the New York Times “How did anyone think we could get away with being nakedly ideological for years without any chickens coming home to roost? Universities have always been tacitly left-leaning and faculty have always been openly so, but institutions have never been this transparently, officially political. Almost every single job ad in my field/related fields this year has some kind of brazenly politicized language…” This ideological framework that permeates Bates and other leading colleges is hateful and intolerant. It’s advocates seek not conversation but conversion.

    When decent people land on reprehensible positions (be it antisemitic or others) as an inadvertent and acceptable byproduct of their “enlightened” goals, they fail morally. There is a bright line between good and evil that transcends race, ethnicity, identity, gender, or status. The behavior we are witnessing on campuses post 10/7 shows that moral absolutism is lacking in these illiberal theologies. To those who find value in Critical Race Theory, intersectionality, and their offshoots as intellectual frameworks, and I am one, I’d suggest in an institution of liberal learning these views should be just one of many rather than a dominant dogma. There should be no litmus tests for hiring and participation in campus organizations. There are credible organizations that are helping institutions benchmark themselves on this issue. There are leading universities that are doing much better than Bates fighting this problem. Without an active plan by the Trustees and leadership, it will probably take a decade or more of faculty and administrator retirements. I hope Bates has the institutional will to move itself more quickly back toward a place of truly liberal learning.

    I decided in my late 40’s that I would donate the majority of my assets to worthy nonprofits. I landed on expanding access to education, with an emphasis on liberal arts education, to do that. Unfortunately, after 10/7 spurred me to better understand the forces at work at Bates, I no longer believe in sending kids to what amounts to an ideological boot camp. None of us will be better off if that’s where Americas best and brightest are shaped.

    I wish the best for you,

    Blair Frank ‘89