by Matt Rosenberg January 20th, 2012
Campus police at the University of Washington in Seattle say they are investigating “as a hate crime” the drawing of a swastika and the word “Jew” on the the door of a Jewish student who lives in the residential facility Haggett Hall. In a written response to an information request by Public Data Ferret, University of Washington Police Department Commander Steve Rittereiser stated the incident is believed to have occurred January 8th and the victim is a 19-year-old Jewish male who resides on Haggett’s third floor. Sometime between 9 a.m. and 8:25 p.m. on the 8th, Ritteresier said, a “Nazi-type swastika” and the word “Jew” were written apparently by the same instrument on a door tag or eight-by-eleven-and-a-half inch piece of construction paper common to many other rooms in the dorm, bearing the first name of the chamber’s residents.
According to UW Police, the student said he had not been involved in any disputes or other activites which would have prompted the graffiti. Rittereiser stated,”‘this is being investigated as a hate crime due to the connection of the symbolism and the victim’s religious affiliation.” He added that UW Police detectives “are looking to see if there are similar incidents that may have happened and may not have been reported.” Haggett personnel are assisting with the investigation. No suspects have yet been identified. Haggett’s Resident Director Marissa Adamczyk responded to a reporter’s requests for an interview Friday afternoon with an email that she would not be available to talk until next Tuesday and has so far declined to reply to a follow-up email request to discuss the incident sooner.
If a suspect were to be identified and probable cause determined by campus police, then the case would be turned over to the King County Prosecutor’s office for further review and possible prosecution. Under Washington state law defacing with a swastika the property of an individual who is or is perceived to be Jewish is one way in which the Class C felony of malicious harassment can be committed. According to state statutes, Class C felonies upon conviction can be punished by up to five years in jail or a $10,000 fine, or both.
Haggett Hall is located at 4290 Whitman Court NE.
Haggett’s third floor An adjoining but separate portion of Haggett’s third floor is a themed “International Community” which according to its UW Web page aims “to offer an enhanced living learning environment with an international focus. This community may be of particular interest to international students, students with experience or interest in studying abroad, and students interested in world issues.”
According to the constitution of the Haggett People’s Council, which is the governing body of the residence hall and its liaison to UW-Seattle’s student government, “we are dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment for students of all racial, ethnic, cultural, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds.”
UPDATE, Monday, 1/23/12: In a phone interview Adamczyk said, “I was aghast that a student accepted to the University of Washington would do something like this. We assume that they come in with a certain level of maturity and respect for others, but that was not the case in this instance.” Adamczyk added an email was sent to all Haggett Hall residents notifying them that a hate crime had occurred; that the building administration takes it seriously; and that they should forward any information about this or similar incidents. Adamczyk confirmed no suspect has yet been identified and for now the assumption is that the act occurred in an empty hallway. There are no security cameras covering the hallway in question. The affected student was disturbed but has received assistance and support from building staff, students and his faith community, Adamczyk said.