On the evening on Oct. 27, a Macalester student found and informed Residential Life of a swastika drawn on a bulletin board in the east wing of George Draper Dayton (GDD) residence hall. Campus Security believes the swastika was drawn earlier that day.
Associate Director of Security Bill Collumbien reported the discovery of the swastika in the Mac Daily on Nov. 1, calling on students to come forward with any information they have on the incident.
“Based on the location of the swastika, it is highly likely that someone in the Macalester community has information about the perpetrator(s) of these incidents,” Collumbien wrote in his announcement..
In a statement to The Mac Weekly, Collumbien said that the St. Paul Police Department has been informed of the marking and will be making more regular patrols of campus.
“We treat any instance of offensive markings such as these very seriously,” Collumbien said in an email to The Mac Weekly. “These actions are unacceptable in our community.”
The swastika drawn in GDD comes just over a month after multiple swastikas were found on various bulletin boards in Neill Hall, an academic building that is open to the public. But like all Macalester residence halls, GDD can only be entered with card access – making it relatively inaccessible to non-Macalester students and personnel.
In response to the hate crime, the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life (CRSL) hosted a panel in Weyerhaeuser Chapel on Nov. 1, titled “We’ve Got to Talk: Swastikas, Hate Symbols, and Mac.”
Psychology professor Joan Ostrove moderated the panel, which featured Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship (IGC) Donna Maeda, Associate Chaplain Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman, Religious Studies professor Erik Davis, and Political Science professor Michael Zis.
Davis, a longtime anti-fascist organizer, called on the Macalester community to unite against the swastika – which he described as “an open call to genocide, murder, and increased hatred.” “The obligation to protect members of one’s community from hatred and threats of violence is one of the core obligations of any community,” Davis said. “Those communities that refuse to protect members against threats of violence – including from their own membership – do not merit the term ‘community.’”
Kippley-Ogman addressed the community’s instinct to write off the incident as an aberration that does not reflect on Macalester as an institution.
“We want to say, ‘that’s not us, that’s a bad apple,’ right?” she said. “We don’t know the motives of the person who wrote it, but we know the impact of the writing and we know that it wasn’t an accident. It’s very possible that the person or people who wrote those symbols are here in this room. It’s possible that there’s someone in this room who was curious about what they could do and get away with.
“If that’s your story, consider your responsibility to the community,” Kippley-Ogman said. “I would more than welcome the opportunity to hear your story, and to talk with you about that symbol.”
Gabi Estrada ’21 voiced her disappointment in the repeated presence of the graffiti on campus. “I came to Macalester because I thought it was a more progressive institution – which I do believe it is – but I’m frustrated that whoever is doing this feel that they’re safe enough to continue doing this,” Estrada said. “I’m also frustrated that a lot of students who like to label themselves as activists without aren’t doing anything to stop this from happening.”
In response, Maeda asked, “Is Macalester really a progressive institution?”
“Macalester, with this self-identification of being progressive, can’t really dig at the ways that maybe it’s not. Small liberal arts colleges are spaces of whiteness, and primarily white institutions that carry certain kinds of histories with that.”
Campus Security encourages anyone with information pertaining to the swastika to contact them at 651-696-6555.