Swastikas found on fliers on DePaul’s campus this week highlight a growing problem on college campuses in the Chicago area, one Jewish advocacy group says.
The fliers were promoting an appearance by the Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh Tuesday on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. An intern who helped organize the event spotted the graffiti on two of the fliers earlier that day.
“In the morning, he noticed that several of the fliers had been defaced with swastikas and that moustaches, Hitler-like moustaches, had been written on the fliers,” says Lisa Klein, the associate director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Chicago.
DePaul Hillel, which organized Abu Toameh’s talk, referred all comments to the Jewish Community Relations Council, which is an umbrella group for Jewish organizations across the city. The student who found the fliers also declined to comment.
The defaced fliers were reported to DePaul’s office of campus safety and to the Chicago Police Department’s hate crimes unit, says DePaul spokesman John Holden.
Klein says anti-Semitic graffiti is becoming more common in the Chicago area.
“Usually there’s a certain amount every year, and particularly on the college campuses, I’m sorry to say,” Klein says. “This year in particular, after the Gaza war, there have been many more instances that are anti-Semitic.”
She adds that such incidents appear to be happening more often at DePaul.
“This campus has had a number of problems on it,” Klein says. “I think part of it is the demographics of the student population. There’s a fair number of Palestinian students on campus, they’re a fairly active group.”
But campus officials and professors disagree.
“Tensions will be inflamed and passions will be inflamed, but I’ve not personally seen anything on campus,” says Michael Skerker, a visiting assistant professor of religious studies at DePaul.
Holden said incidents like yesterday’s were rare on campus and did not appear to be increasing.
“They happen from time to time,” Holden says. “I think it’s been a while since there was any major episode, and that was like three years ago when there was some kind of hate graffiti scrawled in a bathroom stall.”
A police spokesman said Friday he did not have any details on the incident and couldn’t say whether any arrests had been made.
“I suspect that on any college campus you’ve got instances like this, and it’s a problem wherever it happens,” Skerker says.
Daily News Staff Writer Peter Sachs covers higher education. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 18