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Keene State College investigates Nazi graffiti

Union Leader Correspondent

November 23. 2016 6:25PM
This swastika was burned into the ceiling of a third floor bathroom in Keene State College's Carle Hall, Lawrence Welkowitz, Keene State psychology professor, said Wednesday. (Courtesy)

KEENE — Keene State College is investigating the image of a swastika burned into the ceiling of a third-floor bathroom at a dormitory Tuesday morning.

The swastika was burned into the ceiling of a third floor bathroom at Carle Hall, said psychology professor Lawrence Welkowitz, on Wednesday.

Welkowitz was told about the graffiti Tuesday morning by a member of the college’s custodial staff. He went to the scene and arrived to find another member of the custodial staff painting over it.

Welkowitz called attention to the incident by posting photos of the graffiti on Twitter and Facebook.

College officials didn’t report the incident to police, but officials are trying to determine who burned the swastika into the ceiling, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Keene State released this statement: “The swastika was officially reported Tuesday morning and Campus Safety was immediately involved. Immediately after it was first reported, an investigation was started. Keene State is dedicated to the values of respectful discourse and civility, and providing a community that is welcoming and inclusive. The incident in Carle Hall is clearly inconsistent with the values of the college. The investigation will continue until the college exhausts all avenues, and within the guidelines of the college’s Student Code of Conduct, the individual responsible will be held accountable.”

Welkowitz said college officials called a meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the matter and what action should be taken.

“I was pretty impressed; there will be a response from the college,” Welkowitz said.

He added if the culprit isn’t found, the college has a policy in place that could hold all residents of that dormitory financially responsible for the cost of the damage. For student privacy there are no video surveillance cameras in the dorms, he said.

Welkowitz said he is surprised by the graffiti, which seems out of character with the campus.

“We have a pretty friendly campus. Yes, I was surprised by it,” he said.

The graffiti could have come from a place of ignorance or, at worst, of hate, he said.

“It may come from a place of anger, which is a concern,” Welkowitz said.

Most students were in classes on Monday, Welkowitz said, but by Tuesday about half of them had left for Thanksgiving break.

Many of the students still on campus Tuesday and Wednesday were upset about the graffiti, he said.

College officials are working on plans to discuss the issue with students and keep the free flow of ideas and opinions going, he said.

“I also want to reassure people that we are a safe space for them because some students were pretty upset,” he said.

Like most college campuses across the country, national and political issues are being discussed in light of the recent presidential election, he said. The graffiti may or may not have anything to do with politics, Welkowitz said.

On Friday, students and faculty had gathered for a “Speak Out,” he said, during which various topics touching on the current political climate were discussed.

Crime, law and justice Education General News University Keene

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