When Nicole Parsons, 20, saw that a Jewish student’s Happy Hannukkah dorm sign was vandalized with a swastika earlier this December, she was “upset and outraged.”
“Students like to believe that hate crimes don’t exist in their community, but they’re happening on campus, and we can’t hide from that,” Parsons told PJ Media on Tuesday.
The junior at University of Massachusetts-Amherst — who was already fed up with her school’s silence on the seven previous anti-Semitic incidents that happened this semester — wanted to send the perpetrator a message, so she hung a sign in her dorm window December 14.
“F*CK NAZIS YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE,” Parsons wrote.
While this gesture was appreciated by many, one Scrooge calle Dickinson Hall residence director Eddie Papazoni to complain, and five days after the sign was hung Parsons was urged to tear it down, according to emails reviewed by PJ Media.
“While Residence Education cannot force you or your roommate to take the sign down, I am asking that you or your roommate take the sign down so that all students can be a part of an inclusive residential experience,” emailed Papazoni on December 19.
“There are some in the community who have expressed that the sign should be taken down as it has created mixed emotions in the community on how to proceed … issues of inclusion … as well as having a respectful environment,” added Papazoni.
“I was outraged,” Parsons told PJ Media.
“In addition to this email, I was approached by three Residential Life staff members in person asking me to take the sign down because ‘Hate has no home at UMass’… but apparently Nazis do,” Parsons told PJ Media.
While Parsons did remove the sign, she says she did so not because administrators intimidated her, but because her roommate was concerned about possible punishment from administrators.
Generally speaking, Residential Life admins cannot “discipline” students in any significant way. But they can intimidate students through emails and in-person meetings, invoking a potential need to involve the local police department, and suggesting that students may need to meet with their dean.
Parsons is now moving to a house off-campus, and plans to hang the sign at her new place.
“I’ll definitely keep the sign for my new house. I’ll keep the sign forever,” said Parsons. “It’s important to remind people who commit hate crimes that their actions are still wrong.”
As for the string of anti-Semitic graffiti at UMass, it’s unclear if any investigations have taken place. A UMass webpage suggests ongoing collaboration with the local police department, but as of now, no perpetrators of any incidents have been identified.
UMass-Amherst did not respond to a request for comment.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.