Editor's note: This story was edited at 2:23 p.m. Thursday, April 30, 2015.
By Brian Bateman
A swastika was found scribbled on a wall at a University of North Texas campus building late last month.
Cory Armstrong, director of the Frank W. Mayborn School of Journalism, was the first faculty member to notice the chalk drawing March 30 in an outdoor basement-level atrium of the General Academic Building. She said the drawing appeared hurried, with the prongs not in proper alignment.
The UNT student newspaper, the North Texas Daily, first reported the incident online April 22.
Armstrong’s first thoughts that day involved disbelief.
“(I thought) ‘How does this happen? Is it possible this is not what I think it is, because how could this happen here?’ ” she said.
Armstrong washed the chalk off the wall, then called the campus police. The North Texas Police Department reported the offense at 10:54 a.m. March 30, but with the evidence washed away, the police department didn’t have much to document.
Public Information Officer John DeLong told the North Texas Daily the drawing isn’t classified as an FBI hate crime because there’s no clear motive of bias.
The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors anti-Semitic actions around the nation, responded to the inadvertent action to wash away evidence.
“Seeing a swastika is very upsetting … but we’re not sure about the verbiage,” North Texas regional director Roberta S. Clark said, referring to the FBI and ADL requirements to label an action as a hate crime. “We understand the effect, certainly. Sometimes people use a swastika simply to intend hatred” and not direct it at a single person or group, she said.
“The first thing to do is call law enforcement. The second is to call us.”
The UNT facilities staff finished cleaning the brick later that morning, but the outlines took a few hours to fade.
When he read the news in the student paper, Richard M. Golden, professor of history and director of the Jewish and Israel Studies Program, was disappointed, but not shocked, given the statistics, past conflicts and scale of the 36,000-student campus.
“We’ve had (anti-Semitic and anti-Israel) vandalism before,” he said, noting several previous cases of anti-Jewish behavior on campus.
Still, he said that while swastikas are rarely seen on campus, anti-Semitism isn’t.
It’s the second reported case of a swastika in North Texas this year. In March, the symbol was spray-painted on Toras Chaim Rabbi Yaakov Rich’s car.