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Harvard ‘Investigating’ After Swastika Found at School of Public Health

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
The Kresge Building at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Harvard is “investigating” after a student found a swastika posted on a billboard in the School of Public Health Thursday.

The symbol was formed of thumb tacks and posted on a bulletin board marketing epidemiology job postings on the fifth floor of the school’s Kresge Building. Administrators have not yet identified the perpetrator, according to a statement Dean Michele A. Williams sent Thursday to school affiliates outlining the school’s response.

Williams wrote in the statement that School of Public Health administrators are deeply disturbed by the discovery of the swastika.

“We are shocked and outraged to have seen such a symbol of hatred within our own building. The symbol has been removed and we are investigating to determine whether it is possible to identify the perpetrator,” she wrote.

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Williams also asked Meredith Rosenthal, senior associate dean for academic affairs, to host a gathering this afternoon to discuss the incident. Roughly 100 people attended the meeting, according to Rosenthal.

“At a school of public health, we’re committed to social justice and inclusion,” she said. “Nothing could be further from our values from the hate, anti-Semitism, as well as white supremacy that is associated with the swastika.”

Rosenthal also said the incident will inform future discussions at the school surrounding diversity and inclusion.

“The key theme is that we need to continue to have these difficult conversations and not paper over what may be underlying issues that are essentially silenced in our community.”

Laura Rapoport, president of the school’s Jewish Student Association, wrote in an email that the symbol’s placement has detrimentally affected students.

“My fellow students feel hurt and frightened by this event, not even a month after the school commemorated Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day,” she wrote.

The incident was referred to the Harvard University Police Department, according to spokespeople for the School of Public Health and HUPD. HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano declined to comment on the investigation, citing the department’s long-standing policy of not commenting on open cases.

The swastika incident comes shortly after a Harvard employee gave a performance in Sanders Theatre May 2 in which he stripped to the nude and made anti-Semitic comments. Harvard is currently “reviewing” that performance.

—Staff writer Luke W. Vrotsos can be reached at luke.vrotsos@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter at luke_vrotsos.

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