Statement by Robert A. Chernak, senior vice president for student and academic support services, Regarding Swastikas on GW's Foggy Bottom Campus

November 02, 2007

A number of questions have been asked regarding the scope of the university's investigation into the posting of swastikas on the residence hall doors of two students over the past week.

Under normal circumstances, the university would not comment on an investigation in progress so as not to impede the work of police. In this particular case, concern has mounted because of the repeated appearance of the hate symbol in the same location. This concern is shared by everyone in the administration, on our faculty and throughout our student body.

In fact, the university has been actively investigating this horrendous situation from the outset. Campus police have increased patrols of Mitchell Hall, site of the repeated incidents, and we are taking every conceivable step to identify the person or persons responsible.

The University Police Department has also enlisted the aid of the FBI.

Meanwhile, the university has reached out in several ways to the student whose door has been the primary site of the attacks. She has been offered the full protection of our University Police Department - sworn officers in the District of Columbia - and the opportunity to move to a new residence hall room. Members of the Dean of Students office have also offered assistance to any students affected by these hateful messages. There have been residence hall meetings to allow students to express their opinions about the recent events. Students also have been reminded of the availability of the University Counseling Center and its services.

On Friday evening (Nov. 2), President Knapp will participate in the Sabbath dinner and speak with students at GW Hillel. Next Tuesday evening (Nov. 6), the President will take part in a Student Association Town Hall to address the events that, in recent weeks, have involved the posting of hurtful texts and images on our campus and other college campuses around the nation.

President Knapp has said on several occasions since the first incident occurred that the posting of symbols of hatred on our campus is unacceptable no matter who is responsible and no matter what the motives may be. I would also reinforce the President's comment that we have no tolerance for acts that threaten or vilify our students or any members of our community.

I, like President Knapp and others at GW, remain confident that such acts do not represent the sentiments of our student body and the university community as a whole.

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