Swastikas concern residents at off-campus dormitory

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Austin police received a report Saturday that swastikas had been carved into the doors of two suites in the University Towers private dorm complex located at West 24th and Rio Grande streets. Three Jewish students live in one of the suites.

Students from the two suites said the swastikas, which each measured about a foot in diameter, were carved into their doors around midnight Friday. No arrest has been made in regard to the carvings and police say the investigation is ongoing.

Undeclared freshman Andrew Kleiman, resident of one of the vandalized suites, said this was not the first anti-semitic incident he has seen while living at Towers.

He said roughly a month ago, a brief verbal altercation occurred between members of his suite and members of the suite across the hall. Kleiman said he heard them use anti-semitic slurs and imitate the Nazi salute.

Kleiman said he has not seen any other anti-Semitism at UT.

“I’d never experienced or heard of anyone else experiencing this kind of thing,” Kleiman said. “I think this was just a couple of messed-up kids. I don’t know.”

Kleiman said the carved swastika had an immediate impact on him.

“I’m not an angry kid, and I don’t like to fight, but I was looking for a fight at that moment,” Kleiman said. “I was really upset. You can make fun of me, you can say whatever, but when you bring religion into it, and particularly an image from the Holocaust, then that just isn’t acceptable.”

Suite residents carved the vandalized portions of the doors flat that night, and said by mid-Saturday, their doors had been spray-painted black by other Tower residents. However, the carved slashes are still visible.

Tracy Frydberg, head of campus relations on the student executive cabinet at Texas Hillel, a campus center for Jewish life, said Hillel has not yet had a chance to investigate the incident, but will reach out to the local Anti-Defamation League in order to determine an appropriate course of action.

“We take things like this very seriously and will do what we think is necessary to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Frydberg said.

She said there are roughly 4,000 Jewish students currently enrolled at UT.

—Additional reporting by David Maly