A swastika with the caption “Heil Hitler” was discovered in Nootka House in Totem Park last Sunday evening.
According to Kyle Lethbridge, residence life manager for Totem Park North, the graffiti, which was written on the chalkboard in the first-floor house lounge, was promptly removed by a residence student leader.
“We take this incident very seriously and are following up as much as we can given the circumstances,” said Lethbridge. He said that since the graffiti was cleaned up before any photos were taken, the RCMP will not be able to investigate. However, Lethbridge said he has been in contact with the RCMP on how to deal with the incident.
“Should we be able to identify responsibility, our intent is to determine what consequence may be appropriate, and help the individuals responsible to reflect on their conduct’s negative impact on the larger residence community,” Lethbridge said.
“It makes you feel unsafe in your own home,” said Noah Kussin, an international student from Los Angeles and Jewish resident of Nootka.
“I know a lot of other international students — you’re coming to a new country, we’re here, we want to be included, we want to be a part of everything. And to see someone do something that basically says you are not allowed here, we do not want you here, get out, whether they think it’s a joke or something that they can just do — it’s a jarring experience and it really makes you feel unsafe,” said Kussen.
Lethbridge said the residence life staff are offering support to individuals who are distressed by the incident.
Nootka House president Tracey Gaydosh said this incident contrasts sharply with the regular atmosphere of Nootka.
“Nootka is our house, our home, and it has been built up this year through acceptance of diversity,” said Gaydosh. “It is sad to see that everyone’s hard work to make Nootka an amazing community will be overshadowed by this act, when in reality Nootka is a place of acceptance and love and has even won a campus-wide ‘community of the month’ [award] this year.”
UPDATE: A previous version of this article mentioned that the graffiti was found two days after the end of Israeli Apartheid week. That information was meant to provide some context on recent campus events, not explain the motivation behind drawing the graffiti. In order to avoid confusion, we have removed the line from the article.