VUPD responds to swastika carved on back of chair in Furman

Back to Article
Back to Article

VUPD responds to swastika carved on back of chair in Furman

Rachel Friedman, Campus Editor

VUPD responded Jan. 8 to news of a swastika having been carved into the back of a chair in Furman Hall, according to an email sent to students from Dean Mark Bandas and Vice Provost Melissa Thomas-Hunt Tuesday night. The symbol has been removed, the email said.

It has not been determined when the vandalism occurred. According to the email, VUPD is investigating the incident, and the FBI, Nashville Metro Police and the Tennessee Fusion Center have also been notified.

“We have made leaders of Vanderbilt’s Jewish community aware of the incident so they can begin to reach out to their community members,” Bandas and Thomas-Hunt said in the email.

Any person with information has been asked to come forward to VUPD or the administration.

The full text of the email is below:

Dear Vanderbilt Students,

On Tuesday, Jan. 8, Vanderbilt University Police responded to a report of anti-Semitic vandalism in a Furman Hall classroom – a swastika carved into the back of a classroom chair. The symbol has been removed and VUPD is investigating the incident. At this point it is unclear whether the vandalism is a recent act or one that occurred some time ago. Per their protocol regarding incidents of hate, VUPD has made Metro Nashville Police Department, the Tennessee Fusion Center and the FBI aware of the incident.

We have made leaders of Vanderbilt’s Jewish community aware of the incident so they can begin to reach out to their community members.

Vanderbilt University is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. Vanderbilt does not tolerate language or actions that are racist and intended to promote fear or division within our community. We recognize that incidents like this have become all too common in this country and remain steadfast in our commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.

Any member of the Vanderbilt community found responsible for this act would be subject to respective immediate disciplinary procedures: for students, through  Student Accountability; for faculty, under Faculty Manual procedures; for staff, by  HR policies. Law enforcement officials will pursue any appropriate criminal prosecution.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact  VUPD, Dean of Students Mark Bandas, Associate Dean of Students Frank Dobson, Vice Provost Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Vice Chancellor James Page or Provost Susan Wente.

Mark Bandas

Associate Provost and Dean of Students

Melissa Thomas-Hunt

Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence

Update 1/17 11:18am

The Dean of Students Office sent an email to the student body 1/17 updating students that the vandalism is still under investigation. The full text of the email is below.

Dear Vanderbilt Students,

Last week, Vanderbilt University Police responded to a report of anti-Semitic vandalism in a Furman Hall classroom – a swastika carved into the back of a classroom chair. The symbol was removed and VUPD continues to investigate the incident.

As a community committed to the development of knowledge, it is important to learn about the broader historical context that caused the swastika to become a symbol of hate. In many cultures, swastikas connote positive, peaceful ideas, but Nazi appropriation of the symbol in the 1930s and 1940s has caused it to signify anti-Semitism, white nationalism, genocide and terror to many people, including here in the United States. The pain caused by this destructive ideology is profound and enduring.

Many learning opportunities exist on campus to help our community to create a more inclusive community through the exploration of identity and celebration of differences. Every year the Office of the Dean of Students sponsors a yearlong Holocaust Lecture Series in collaboration with partners across campus to teach and facilitate discussion of the Shoah and its ongoing impact on our society. The next event, United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day: A Conversation with Tom Wood and Jan Karski, takes place on January 28 at 7 p.m. in Sarratt Cinema. And this Friday, Vanderbilt’s MLK Commemorative Series will begin with a robust slate of programming scheduled through the 21st. We encourage everyone to take advantage of these opportunities to engage with these critical topics.

Vanderbilt is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. Vanderbilt does not tolerate language or actions that are biased and intended to promote fear or division within our community. Any member of the Vanderbilt community found responsible for acts of hate would be subject to respective immediate disciplinary procedures: for students, through  Student Accountability; for faculty, under  Faculty Manual procedures; for staff, by  HR policies. Law enforcement officials will pursue any appropriate criminal prosecution.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact  VUPD, Dean of Students Mark Bandas, Associate Dean of Students Frank Dobson, Vice Provost Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Vice Chancellor James Page or Provost Susan Wente.

As a reminder, bias-related incidents may be reported directly to the Title IX and Student Discrimination Office at  titleixandstudentdiscrimination@vanderbilt.edu or by calling 615-343-9004. Incidents can also be reported anonymously using  this form.

Diversity, equity and inclusion stand at the center of the community we strive to build here at Vanderbilt, and no act of hate can change that.

Mark Bandas
Associate Provost and Dean of Students

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story