Ole Miss community responds to swastika found in residential elevator

According to the University of Mississippi, a potential suspect has been identified in a swastika vandalism incident, and “the student has been referred to the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct.”

A swastika image was found in a Residential College South elevator on Nov. 10 and was reported to the university’s Department of Student Housing. The unnamed suspect was identified after a review of surveillance footage.

According to WKGR-TV, student MeKala Mcneil and her boyfriend, Allen Coon, saw the swastikas when they stepped into the elevator on Nov. 10. She noted that they had stayed away from campus the day before, which was the day after the election.

“We’re aware of this incident and we’re allocating every resource available within our department to address this situation,” said Lionel Maten, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and director of student housing. “Our top priority is the safety of our residents and maintaining an inclusive, healthy community conducive to the learning experience.”

The Jewish Federation of Oxford issued a statement that “strongly condemns” the vandalism. “The swastika invokes a period less than 80 years ago in which Jews and other minority groups were targeted for complete and total annihilation by those who appealed to its imagery. We expect a swift, and just, response from campus administration and the University police department, and we support the Lafayette-Oxford-University community in standing against hate speech wherever it occurs.”

The Oxford Eagle editorialized that “Invoking a symbol representative of the systematic genocide of more than 10 million people isn’t a joke nor is it something that should be normalized for the simple reason that it’s one of many related incidents happening throughout the nation” after the presidential election. “It is hate, plain and simple, and it is utterly reprehensible.”

Earlier in the week, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said “the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is our top priority. We will not tolerate violent or threatening behavior.”

The administration urged all residents who see a bias incident, “which includes conduct, speech or expressions that are threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, or hostile and are motivated by a person’s identity or group affiliation,” to report it to the proper authorities, and if immediate support is needed, contact the University Police.