SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Two male students were identified by police at San Jose State University in a hate crime investigation after swastikas and hateful language was found in two residence halls.
Police say the two suspects did not know appear to know each other, and acted individually.
In the first incident, one of the students took name tags from doors, and post-it notes and formed a swastika on a door in a public area in Washburn Hall. He allegedly wrote an antisemitic message, and posted a photo of it on Snapchat. The student did not cause any damage, and will not be charged with vandalism.
The second swastika appeared in Campus Village, also with hate messages next to it, on a dry erase board in a common area shared by seven people.
San Jose State spokesperson Pat Harris on Thursday said the university’s president wasted no time addressing the incident, coming back a day early from her monthly trip to long beach with the chancellor.
“She is meeting with her cabinet this morning to debrief on what has been done so far and what more we should be doing, said Harris.
On Wednesday night, the school held a forum for students who live in the two residential halls where swastikas were found. It was closed to the media but the goal was to create a space where students can come together with staff and openly talk about race issues.
Kathleen Wong (Lau), the school’s first chief diversity officer, was brought on this year to tackle cases like this and ensure a safe, welcoming environment for students. On Wednesday, she met with campus staff, including RAs.
“Tried to coach them about how they can talk to students. They weren’t given a script but really focus on being able to facilitate and really listen well to students as well as reflect back their perspectives so that students can feel validated,” Wong (Lau) told KPIX 5.
“Very sad seeing that,” said SJSU student Natasha Sondeno. “Just for the fact that I came just for the diversity and seeing other people being so hateful to different races like that I, I’m not a big fan of that obviously. I don’t think anyone is.”
The incident comes after three white San Jose State university students were convicted of misdemeanor battery against their African-American roommate.
Harris said the campus does have surveillance cameras, but they won’t release any information or images while the investigation continues.
If a student is found to have been behind the messages, they could face suspension or expulsion.