UW-Madison has disciplined a student who posted several swastikas and photos of Adolf Hitler on the door of a Jewish student’s dorm room last month.
The incident happened in Sellery Hall on Jan. 26, and was meant to be a prank, Dean of Students Lori Berquam said. Berquam did not name the people involved, though she said the students all knew one another, and said federal law prohibits the university from saying what disciplinary sanctions the student who posted the photos received.
A Facebook post from Wednesday night shows the door to the room in Sellery Hall covered with five swastikas and three photos of Hitler.
University officials said they reacted quickly to the incident once it was reported in January, meeting with organizations for Jewish students and sending a message to Sellery Hall residents within 24 hours.
On Wednesday night, however, the photo of the dorm room door and other posts about the incident started gaining much greater local and national attention on Facebook.
That prompted officials on Thursday to send an email to all UW-Madison students describing their response to the prank and inviting students to a meeting later this month to discuss anti-Semitism.
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Greg Steinberger, executive director of the University of Wisconsin Hillel Foundation, said Thursday that the photo “was as gut-wrenching as it could be” for many students. But Steinberger commended the university’s response to the incident.
“The perpetrator was dealt with, there was adjudication, there was education and there was an opportunity within the community for conversation and healing,” Steinberger said at a press conference with Berquam and other university officials.
The email to students encouraged those who see anything similar to the intended prank to report it to the UW Hate and Bias Incident Team, UW-Madison police, the Dean of Students’ Office or University Health Services.
Berquam said the university is continually working to educate students on how to make the campus a place where everyone is welcome and supported, but she and others acknowledged that work is far from complete.
“I hope that we consider this part of the learning that happens and the growth that happens in our young people,” Berquam said.