Swastika found drawn in Jewish student social space at Loyola University Chicago

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Sunday, February 4, 2024
Swastika found drawn in Jewish student social space at Loyola
A Swastika was found drawn Friday in the Hillel Social Room, a Jewish student space at Loyola University Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A swastika was found drawn Friday inside a social space for Jewish students at Loyola University Chicago.

The school called the actions "heinous" on Saturday.

"I was, honestly, disgusted and just shocked when I heard that somebody would've drawn a symbol like that inside, especially a religious space," said student Stavros Spanakis.

The vandalism was found and reported by students Friday morning in the Hillel Social Room, which is inside of the Damen Student Center.

Spanakis, a sophomore, said he was there after the tarnishing discovery was made by his fellow peers.

"People were fluttering around the area and things. It was, kind of, a lot of uncertainty," Spanakis said. "There's been a kind of clash in the past, but nothing to this magnitude. After hearing this, it's really kind of alarming that people are actually drawing swastikas."

This comes after the university said "obscene items" were found drawn in the same room earlier this week.

"Hillel at Loyola is outraged by the repeated acts of vandalism committed inside the Jewish Life space on campus," Metro Chicago Hillel at Loyola said in a statement. "This is a violation of the security of our community and comes at a time when Jewish students already feel unsafe to express their identity on campus."

The Office for Equity and Compliance is now investigating and being urged by the school to investigate "objectively, thoroughly, and expeditiously."

Students said they are outraged and concerned for their peers.

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"It's not right at all, and that for those in that community, they should protect themselves and watch out for people around, because you never know what could happen, man," said freshman student Nelson Romero.

Fern Browne is a sophomore.

"I can't imagine who would've done that, and it makes me mad even as somebody who isn't Jewish. Like, I don't understand that animosity, and I think that it's really a problem and I hope that it gets dealt with quickly," Browne said.

Vice President for Student Development Keith Champagne issued a statement to students, saying, "Let me be clear, Loyola University Chicago condemns this hateful act of antisemitism and discrimination absolutely and unequivocally."

The university said they will notify the school body as soon as the investigation is completed.

Students are encouraged to connect with the university's CURA Network, led by staff members available to support students in distress and are available to meet either in person or remotely.

Hate crime reports have shot up across Chicago the past two years, with 204 in 2022 and 302 in 2023 after previous years hovered around 100, according to police data. Anti-Jewish hate crimes had the second-most reports last year, behind anti-Black hate crimes.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.