By Briana Vannozzi
“This was an attempt at an act of intimidation towards me,” said Rutgers University senior Sara Rosen.
Jewish student Rosen describes the night she came home to a symbol taped to her Rutgers dorm room ceiling.
“To say I felt panicked just doesn’t even cut it,” she said.
Her two roommates claimed it was a Buddhist peace symbol, not a Nazi swastika which faces the opposite direction. But Rosen says the act came after months of escalating tension between the students and it carried over to disturbing posts online.
“There were Hitler postings on Facebook, there were dead animal postings on Facebook,” she said.
All of which were deleted after she filed a report with Rutgers police over the swastika incident. She says she felt like her concerns were brushed off. And the school was more interested in her reports on the roommates’ vandalism with stolen signs and liquid nitrogen.
“I was met with the response of, ‘Sara, boys will be boys. They’re not as mature as you. This was all a joke gone bad,’” she said.
A spokesperson for the university said they couldn’t provide details about the case due to federal privacy laws, but that the school takes reports of potential bias crimes extremely seriously: “Following an extensive investigation…the matter was handled by the office of student conduct and adjudicated. As is the case with any potential bias crime, the facts of the case were forwarded to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Upon review, the prosecutor’s office determined there was not probable cause to charge the suspect with a bias crime.”
“This was a swastika taped to a student’s ceiling. And this anti-Semitic incident to date has not been condemned by the university,” said Josh Cohen of the Anti-Defamation League.
The Anti-Defamation League has stepped in, along with many other organizations to support Rosen’s case.
“This symbol is used by individuals, not necessarily white supremacists in attempts to vandalize public or private institutions. It’s meant to shock an individual and to send a message of hate,” Cohen.
“I’m incredibly disappointed that Rutgers University just stood idly by. But I’m hopeful that Rutgers will take a stance in condemning these types of willful acts of intimidation and that they’ll make us stand in condemning the use of religious symbols as weaponry,” Rosen said.
Rosen says this situation is no longer about her. Since coming forward she says she’s been contacted by numerous Rutgers students who’ve had similar incidents swept under the rug. She hopes by going public with her story, it will be one of the last.