DAVIS, Calif. — UC Davis campus police are investigating after they say someone drew swastikas on a door and mirror in a bathroom at Alder Hall, a residence for first-time students on campus.
The incident was reported to the UC Davis Police Department and Harassment and Discrimination Assistance and Prevention Program (HDAPP) on Thursday.
The University says the hateful and racist images were removed immediately.
"I condemn those cowards who once more have tried to intimidate our students," Gary May, UC Davis Chancellor said. "We know messages of condemnation are not enough. We will continue to meet with Jewish students, faculty and staff to not only show our support but talk through any solutions."
Leah Stark is a student at UC Davis. She's heavily involved in helping to support Jewish students, along with others, on and off campus. She says she's a proud member of the Jewish community. But now, she's on edge.
"I'm starting to feel a little unsafe every day," Stark said. "If I wear a Jewish Star necklace, is someone going to try to do something to me? Is something going to happen? Is something hateful going to be said? It's very scary right now to be in this environment."
This is not the first time someone attacked the Jewish community with hate speech or symbols at UC Davis. The university says four white men placed a banner with racist anti-Semitic statements over the Highway 113 overpass in late August. Days before that, the university got a report about a similar hateful act.
According to the non profit Anti-Defamation League (ADL), anti-Semitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, with a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported. This represents the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979 – an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34% increase year over year.
Each year, the ADL Center on Extremism tracks incidents of antisemitism across the country. The ADL has publishes the information in an annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents.
The 2021 report shows, attacks against Jewish institutions, including Jewish community centers and synagogues, were up by 61%, incidents at K-12 schools increased 106% and incidents on college campuses rose 21%.
"Just a few weeks ago, several campus leaders joined me in meeting with students who represent the Jewish community on campus to discuss how we can continue to show our support when many live in fear," May said. "We have ongoing collaborative discussions with the Hillel at Davis and Sacramento executive director and staff. And, our UC Davis Advisory Council on Jewish Life is working with me and others to identify more actions we can take to address antisemitism and provide support."
Hillel at Davis and Sacramento is a nonprofit on a mission "to enhance the lives of Jewish students." Hillel was established in 1965 to provide a home away from home for Jewish college students studying in the area. Hillel is urging everyone to come together in all communities to help fight antisemitism.
"It's too painful for the students and community as a whole," Barry Klein, board president for Hillel said. "We need to make sure that all the communities shun the people who take part in this (antisemitism) and make sure they are ostracized from the community and make sure that when you see it (antisemitism) happen, you report it."
Police are still searching for the person responsible for the swastika drawings on campus. If you have any information, call the UC Davis Police Department at 530-752-1727.
"What's important right now is that we're sticking together," Stark said.
"I just wish people wouldn't be so hateful towards each other and that people can help other Jewish students feel safer."