Antisemitic vandalism occurs in Albert Street Residence

‘The swastika has served as the most significant and notorious of hate symbols’

The new Albert Street residence building where the incident took place.

This article includes descriptions of antisemitism and may be triggering for some readers. The Peer Support Centre offers drop-in services and empathetic peer-based support and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Online services can be accessed here.

On Oct. 1, an incident of antisemitic vandalism occurred in Albert Street Residence in the form of an antisemitic symbol drawn on a fridge in one of the lounges.

The University provided a statement to The Journal regarding the hate act.

According to the University, the vandalism was discovered by an on-call don at which point it was documented, removed, and reported to Campus Security and Emergency Services and the Human Rights and Equity Office.

“The University is committed to addressing any form of racism or discrimination, and to ongoing work to promote a safe, healthy, and inclusive community,” the University wrote.

“Queen's has supports available on campus through Human Rights Advisory Services and encourages anyone who has been personally affected by any form of human rights related discrimination or harassment to contact the office.”

Students in further need of wellness support can contact Student Wellness Services or access self-directed mental health supports, such as Empower Me or Good2Talk.

“Anyone with information concerning this incident is encouraged to contact Residence Life or Campus Security and Emergency Services. Should the perpetrator be identified as a student, they may be subject to sanctions under Queen’s Non-Academic Misconduct system,” the University added.

Parmveer Mundi, manager of residence conduct, sent an email to all Albert Street residents after the incident to notify them the symbol had been seen, removed, and reported, according to the University.

“This incident that seems intended to intimidate and foster contempt for individuals and groups of people, is a violation of human rights and the dignity of individuals,” Mundi said in the email.

“Universities, including Queen’s, are vigorous defenders of freedom of expression; however, using symbols or words to threaten, intimidate, or otherwise foster hatred or contempt towards an individual or identifiable group is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at Queen’s.”

Mundi provided on-campus support resources for Queen's students who have been affected by the incident. Anyone who would like to ask a question or state a concern about human rights related discrimination and/or harassment can contact the Queen's Human Rights Advisory Services by submitting a Human Rights Client Intake Form or by email.

The Journal spoke with first-year Jewish student Joe* to gain a student perspective on the incident.

“Recently I was informed that a swastika was drawn on the fridge just steps from my room,” Joe said. “It was unsettling to hear that news, knowing that it was written by one of my peers at the school.”

Joe said this event makes him feel less comfortable expressing himself as a Jew out of fear of being judged and discriminated.

“I hope that Queen's University takes this event seriously and understands the impact that this has on Jewish students,” Joe added.

Yos Tarshish, director of Queen’s Hillel, also provided a statement to The Journal.

"Queen’s Hillel was horrified to learn that yet again, antisemitic graffiti has been found on campus, at Queen’s,” Tarshish said. “For over 80 years the swastika has served as the most significant and notorious of hate symbols, antisemitism, and white supremacy.”

Tarshish said Queen’s Hillel appreciates residence staff’s quick action to remove the vandalism and expressed gratitude to the administration for supporting efforts to combat antisemitism on campus.

“All students deserve to study in an environment where they feel safe and secure [and] free from hate and prejudice.”

“Year over year, the Jewish community is the most targeted religious minority for hate crimes in Canada. These incidents underscore why education on antisemitism is fundamental to tackling this issue.”

Tarshish said Queen’s Hillel is committed to educating the wider campus about the diverse Jewish community at Queen’s, in Canada, and around the world. This includes “our real lived experiences including our many joys and also our challenges,” Tarshish said.

Queen’s Hillel urges people to get involved in combatting antisemitism and learning about Judaism.

On Oct. 23 at 3 p.m., Hillel will be hosting a screening of the short film Periphery at the Queen’s University International Centre.

The film is a photographic and film project produced by No Silence on Race, a Canadian not-for-profit organization dedicated to expressing the experiences of Jews of Colour in Canada, and the Ontario Jewish Archives, a local community archive that collects and preserves the historical records of Jewish life in Ontario.

All are encouraged to watch the film, which will be followed by a discussion led by Yoni Belete, ArtSci ’16, a Queen's Hillel alumnus and a co-founder of No Silence on Race.

*Name changed for safety reason.

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