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Swastika found spray painted at MSU fraternity house

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Posted at 6:19 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 18:19:14-05

LANSING, Mich. — The Jewish community at Michigan State University is on edge after a swastika was found spray-painted on the sidewalk near a fraternity house.

The graffiti was discovered Saturday morning next to the Pi Kappa Alpha house on Charles Street.

"It was very hurtful because you expect it around the world, but you don't expect it so close to home, so close in your community," said Cole Levine, president of the MSU Chabad Board.

The person's intentions aren't known at this time. East Lansing Police are investigating.

Levine says he hopes it wasn't malicious, but it's the message behind the symbol that matters.

"It can be thrown around so easily, and something like that, he could've drawn a smiley face or a heart or anything but he chose that image. I think that's the true message," said Levine.

He and other students have met with MSU's Interfraternity Council.

"As soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to do something. I had to coordinate with others to make clear to campus that there will be a response," said Levine.

"When you learn about situations in history and you want to make sure they're not repeated, the best way to do that is to educate the community. Maybe implementing some sort of an antisemitism class in Greek Life, something like that," said Maverick Levy, vice president of the MSU Chabad Board.

In a statement, the fraternity's president wrote, "Early Saturday morning, a former member of Iota Iota Chapter drew an antisemitic symbol on the chapter’s property. As soon as the chapter became aware of the member’s actions, he was suspended. The chapter has a zero-tolerance policy for any form of discrimination or hate speech and is fully cooperating with the East Lansing Police Department in their investigation."

Jewish leaders on campus say this is part of a bigger problem.

Last fall, a student had her mezuzah stolen from an off-campus apartment.

Also, two men were caught on camera destroying a sukkah at the MSU Hillel.

"MSU has always, has for so long, been a place where it was inclusive and everyone was out to help each other. Just in the past few months, we've seen an uptick in antisemitic acts," said Rabbi Benzion Shemtop.

"It comes to a point where it's one more and one more. When is it ever going to stop? That's what I ask myself," said Levy.

The Chabad is in the process of planning an educational event on campus where anyone can come to learn about the Jewish faith and its history.

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