University investigates reports of swastika drawn in dormitory elevator

Posted on Nov 12 2016 - 8:01am by Clara Turnage

Police are investigating reports of a swastika drawn in the dormitory elevator in the Residential College South.

Junior Allen Coon posted on Facebook a photo of the drawing and said, “A swastika was drawn in my dorm elevator –front desk said this fourth instance since Election Day.”

Makala McNeil, one of the students who found the vandalism, said the symbol of white supremacy could be traumatizing for students who came upon it.

“It came as a shock to me, honestly,” McNeil said. “I don’t know what that person was thinking to feel that was okay.”

When McNeil and the other students reported the incident to the community assistants on duty, she said they told her it was not the first one they’d seen.

“They were like, ‘Oh, that’s the fourth one since Election Day,’” McNeil said.

McNeil said she thinks the mentality of President-elect Donald Trump is creating an environment where people feel entitled to act on racist tendencies.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in the dorms before,” McNeil said. “It’s frightening; not only do they feel this way, but they’re acting on it now – and he’s not even president yet.”

The Jewish Federation of Oxford released a response to the vandalism on Friday.

To the Lafayette County-Oxford-University Community,

The Jewish Federation of Oxford strongly condemns the recent drawing of swastikas in the Residential College South dormitory on the University of Mississippi campus. The swastika invokes a period less than eighty years ago in which Jews and other minority groups were targeted for complete and total annihilation by those who appealed to its imagery. We expect a swift, and just, response from campus administration and the University police department, and we support the LOU community in standing against hate speech wherever it occurs.


The Jewish Federation of Oxford

Marvin King, professor in residence at the dorm, said something similar happened Wednesday and was reported to the university’s bias incident response team.

King said because the image was drawn in the elevator, the person who did it was likely caught on one of the cameras installed there, though McNeil said the positioning of the symbol may be deliberately hidden from the camera’s view.

The university said in a news release Friday that it was aware of the swastika and was investigating.

“We’re aware of this incident and we’re allocating every resource available within our department to address this situation,” said Lionel Maten, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and director of student housing in the statement. “Our top priority is the safety of our residents and maintaining an inclusive, healthy community conducive to the learning experience.”

King said it was unfortunate that such a “disgusting, regretful and embarrassing” thing would happen on the day of Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter’s investiture. King said he hoped that after such a contentious election, students would come together in unity – but that’s not what has happened.

“People do stuff like this with malice,” King said. “They want to intimidate. They want to hurt.”