Swastika snow carving upsets Mount Allison University community
Students, professors and administration react to hate symbol posted on social media
Caroline Kovesi says she won't be telling her grandparents, all survivors of the Holocaust, that someone carved a swastika in the snow on the football field at the university she attends in Sackville, N.B.
The swastika was carved in the snow on Mount Allison University's Alumni Field sometime Friday night and was erased Saturday morning.
Kovesi, who is Jewish said when she saw a picture of the swastika, she felt a combination of horror, fear and a lot of anger.
"It's just such a disgrace to all of my family members who were murdered in the Holocaust," said the fifth-year sociology and philosophy student.
The image was being shared through social media platforms such as Yik Yak, Twitter and Facebook, but it isn't clear what platform the image was originally posted.
Kovesi said it's troubling the incident happened on the small-town campus where she felt safe.
Mount Allison University has a student population of under 2,500 students.
"I'm not actually going to tell my grandparents about this because they would be so upset," said Kovesi.
University administration reacts
Once the carving was removed, it was replaced with a message of hope.
"Shortly thereafter, in the morning sometime, we are unsure of all the times of these things ... the swastika was erased and a message with the letters for hope were carved into the snow," said university spokesman Robert Hiscock.
"In response to last evening's expression of hate on Alumni Field, we stand with our community with a message of hope. This matter is being taken very seriously and is being investigated. We are bringing this to the Student Affairs Anti-Racism Committee. More communication will follow next week," read the statement.
Hiscock said it is not known whose account on which the photo of the swastika was initially posted, but the university will be investigating.
When asked if anything like this had ever happened at the university before, Hiscock said no.
Racism on campus
Social media posts from students and professors pointed out there are many forms of racism being felt on campus, including xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia.
This showed up last night <a href="https://twitter.com/MountAllison">@MountAllison</a> I hope there are cameras on that fancy field and a zero tolerance attitude to hate on my campus. <a href="https://t.co/PJzbFUVIm7">pic.twitter.com/PJzbFUVIm7</a>—@LellyK
<a href="https://twitter.com/MountAllison">@MountAllison</a> after the investigation, I want to see real change & absolute commitment to zero tolerance/real consequences for hate at MTA—@carolinekovesi
Laura Medicoff, a fourth-year student and head of the Mount Allison Jewish Students Association, said she assumed being on a small campus meant she wouldn't have to worry about things like this happening.
"This really brought me back to reality that this is something that does exist and I do have to be concerned about it," she said.
Tasia Alexopoulos, a professor of women and gender studies at the university, said while she wasn't surprised to see the picture of the swastika, she was saddened by it.
Alexopoulos said while many students are shocked and angry after seeing the racist and anti-Semitic symbol being used, they are more focused on the fact it's not an isolated incident.
"They are speaking about their experiences with racism on campus in all of its different forms and they are saying, 'This is another example that we can add to the pile and it's becoming a very large pile.'"