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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

One suspect caught in spate of campus vandalism

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Timeline

  • Oct. 23 — Sarah Marshak, a Jewish freshman, reports a swastika drawn on the whiteboard mounted to her Mitchell Hall
    door. In the next four days, two more are drawn, each progressively larger in size. (The Hatchet, Oct. 25)
  • Oct. 27 — Transfer student Erica Tanne, a Jewish sophomore, finds the symbol drawn on the whiteboard mounted to her
    residence hall door. Tanne lives in Potomac House.
  • Oct. 28 — A swastika is drawn on Marshak’s door for the fourth time. (The Hatchet, Oct. 29)
  • Oct. 30 — Marshak reports a fifth swastika. In eight days, seven swastikas were found on campus: five on Marshak’s
    door, one on Tanne’s door and one on a fence by GW Hospital. (Hatchet Web Update,
    Oct. 29, 7:53 p.m.
    )
  • Oct. 31 — University President Steven Knapp tells The Hatchet that UPD is investigating and has not involved the
    Metropolitan Police Department. Also, a swastika was found spray-painted on the door of a Columbia University professor, which the New York
    City Police Department is investigating.
  • Early Thursday — Marshak reports another swastika on her door. This is the sixth instance in ten days and the
    eighth swastika found on campus. An eighth swastika is found
    overnight in Mitchell Hall
    (The Hatchet, Nov. 1); News Analysis: What is a hate crime?
    (Nov. 1).
  • Friday — The University states in a news release that it has called in the FBI to help identify those responsible
    for the drawings. (Hatchet Web Update,
    Nov. 2, 5:10 a.m.
    )
  • The Hatchet learns that a student in New Hall reported finding a racial epithet written
    on her door Tuesday. The word “Niggers” was written at the bottom of a poster advertising for a black engineering group’s event. (Hatchet Web Update, Nov. 2, 9:51
    p.m.
    )
  • Another student living in New Hall finds a swastika drawn on her door. This is the
    ninth swastika found on campus since Oct. 23. (Hatchet Web Update, Nov. 2, 9:42
    p.m.
    )
  • Sunday — The University announces they apprehended the perpetrator of New Hall swastika drawings and racial
    epithets. The upperclassman was barred from campus, will face student judicial action and possibly charged with violating D.C. and/or federal
    laws. (The Hatchet, Nov.
    5
    )
  • Monday — Using footage from a hidden video camera in Mitchell Hall, UPD linked Marshak with the vandalism to her
    door. Marshak told The Hatchet she only drew the final three of the six swastikas. She will face student judicial action and could face
    federal and District charges.
    Hatchet Web Update,
    Nov. 5, updated 5:58 p.m.
    )

The perpetrator responsible for drawing two swastikas and at least one racial epithet in New Hall was apprehended Saturday night, University officials confirmed Sunday morning.

The suspect, a GW student whose name is being withheld by the University Police Department, was caught using footage from security cameras placed throughout New Hall. UPD was able to narrow down the time frame for the student’s attacks by watching footage from Friday’s incident in which the words “white power” were written along with a swastika. On Tuesday, the same student wrote “niggers” at the bottom of a poster advertising an event for a black engineering group.

“The suspect has been barred from campus, will face student judicial action, and a determination will be made as to whether District of Columbia and/or federal laws were violated,” Schario said.

UPD is continuing its investigation into the eight swastikas drawn in both Mitchell Hall and Potomac House and those found near GW Hospital. Schario said there is no current evidence to suggest the perpatrator responsible for the drawings in New Hall is also responsible for drawings in Mitchell.

“Currently, there is no evidence to suggest any connection between the suspect charged Saturday night and the incidents still under investigation,” she said.

Rob Fishman, the executive director of GW Hillel, said he is glad that someone has been charged for these attacks but said he was saddened that the student had to express himself through the drawing of swastikas.

“This is clearly a cry for help on the part of the student,” Fishman said. “This is not normal behavior.”

Fishman said he thinks the swastikas are the work of a copycat and hopes UPD can find the other perpetrators.

“This is clearly the work of a copycatter targeted against different communities on campus,” he said. “I’m glad that they’ve found the perpetrator behind this attack. I look forward to (UPD) catching the next one.”

Michael Tapscott, director of the Multicultural Student Services Center, said Friday that the racial slur, along with the swastikas, exemplify a climate of escalated racial insensitivity on campus.

“When it starts getting written on doors, that’s more aggressive, and it frankly becomes a clear issue – not of ignorance – but bordering on intolerance,” Tapscott said.

Senior Charles Basden, president of the Black Student Union, said there is “room for concern” with recent incidents of hate on campus.

“The recent months have shown a trend in our country of ugly racism and cultural insensitivity,” Basden said. “The University should also continue to push for diversity and cultural immersion strategies. This is the legwork that has to be done if we are serious about changing the way in which people think about others’ cultures and start to reverse the trend that has created itself recently.”

Basden said members of the black community started an initiative called the “Stop the Hate Campaign” which will reach out to other ethnic groups. He said it will address the fears of ethnic groups, lobby GW administrators to review University policies regarding hate speech and work with UPD and the Residence Hall Association to monitor hate behavior in residence halls.

Andrew Ramonas contributed to this report.

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