Daniel Yeluashvili, a fourth-year political science student at San Francisco State University, stepped into a school restroom today and got an unpleasant surprise.
“Lo and behold, there was a swastika and Star of David carved into one of the toilet-paper dispensers,” he told J.
The graffiti showed a swastika with the name of the university, a Star of David and the words “Free Palestine.”
Yeluashvili said he’s seen similar scrawls before. “I’d like to say that this is unusual, but it isn’t,” he said. “The university at most will release a statement or two and not actually change anything.”
S.F. State sent out a public statement announcing that university police are investigating the incident. Outgoing President Les Wong commented, “The swastika is a symbol of hatred, violence and anti-Semitism, and S.F. State strongly condemns this abhorrent act, which runs counter to university values.”
“The swastika graffiti found in a restroom at San Francisco State University is deplorable,” Rabbi Serena Eisenberg, director of American Jewish Committee Northern California, wrote in an email to J. In a former position, Eisenberg led Hillel at Stanford. “AJC calls on the university administration to investigate and make a serious effort to educate the campus about political expressions that cross the line into hate speech and anti-Semitism.”
In an email to J., Anti-Defamation League regional director Seth Brysk characterized the graffiti, found in the humanities building, as “anti-Semitism seeking to cloak itself as political.”
Said Brysk, “At this time of year, Jewish students’ most significant challenge ought to be studying for final exams rather than confronting a vandal’s offensive message of hate, intimidation and marginalization.”
Jewish students have long complained of an atmosphere of anti-Semitism engendered by fellow students and enabled by ineffectual responses from the S.F. State administration. “I’ve personally had experiences where people glare at me when I wear a Star of David necklace,” said Yeluashvili, who is active with S.F. Hillel and the university’s pro-Israel club.
A discrimination lawsuit filed last year against the university by two Jewish students was settled in March. The suit, one of a series in recent years, alleged that S.F. Hillel was intentionally blocked from participating in a campus-wide event. As part of the settlement, the university agreed to order independent investigations of all religious discrimination complaints; create a new position, coordinator of Jewish student life, as part of the school’s Division of Equity & Community Inclusion; and allocate $200,000 to support “educational efforts to promote viewpoint diversity (including but not limited to pro-Israel and Zionist viewpoints).”