A swastika carved into a door and a “Rights for Whites” sign have been discovered by Exeposé in a University hall of residence, following anti-Semitic slogans claiming “the Holocaust was a good time” at a social last term. A sign entitled “Rights for Whites” adorns the door of a student room in Llewellyn Mews, whilst a large swastika was carved into a door in on-campus halls Birks Grange, with the University only removing the latter when sent photos by Exeposé – despite it being reported almost a week before.
Mark Kiner, Publicity Secretary of the University of Exeter Jewish Society, told Exeposé that the University has a reputation amongst Jewish parents, who don’t want to send their children to study at Exeter. “As far as everyone in the Jewish Society knows, the University hasn’t done anything about it. It’s unfortunate because Exeter does have a reputation, especially amongst Jewish parents.”
a large swastika was carved into a door in on-campus halls Birks Grange
The discovery follows Peer of the House of Lords Baroness Deech’s claims in December that some of Britain’s top universities were becoming no-go zones for Jewish students, referencing Exeter. This followed the revelation that students at a Snowsports social wore white t-shirts with slogans including “Don’t speak to me if you’re not white.”
In response to the Baroness’s comments, however, a University of Exeter spokesperson told The Telegraph that allegations of the University being an unwelcoming place for Jewish students were “completely untrue.”
Whilst Kiner praised the Guild for making Jewish students feel safe and supported, he said the reputation of the University as an anti-Semitic place “keeps spreading because the University doesn’t tackle it. We want Jewish students and Israeli students to come here.”
A University of Exeter spokesperson told Exeposé that an investigation had been launched – and that initial enquires suggest the signs may have been “a deeply offensive joke parodying a sketch in a TV comedy show.”
The Union of Jewish Students, a national organisation, condemned the incident, saying it indicates that some students do not welcome minorities. “The discovery of a swastika at the University of Exeter is concerning, particularly so recently after Holocaust Memorial Day when we remember the atrocities committed by the Nazis against Jews and other minority groups. Universities ought to be safe and welcoming for all students, but this vandalism undermines that principle and indicates instead that some students do not welcome their minority peers.
Tally Myners, a first year student who lives in the corridor where the swastika was discovered said it made her feel “unsettled because it was right outside my room.” In 2011, Exeter hit the headlines a after a speaker at a student talk on campus claimed “Hitler was right” and “antiSemitism doesn’t exist.” “Racism in any form is not tolerated. The University’s Director of Campus Services launched an urgent investigation as soon as he was made aware of this and the graffiti and offensive slogan were immediately removed.“
Exeter has increasingly come under the spotlight in recent years over diversity on campus, with Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson’s son Tindyebwa Agaba encountering racism in his first year studying at the University – leading Thompson to describe Exeter as a fitting home for BNP leader Nick Griffin. The University’s African Caribbean Society said they were shocked and saddened to hear about the “Rights for Whites” sign.
Exeter has increasingly come under the spotlight in recent years over diversity on campus
“We understand that the Students’ Guild is attempting to tackle this with schemes such as #WeAreAllExeter, and would encourage more of this in the future to prevent these incidents happening again. We would be happy to discuss potential changes with the university to avoid these situations, as we believe the Exeter community should do more to protect those who are affected and prevent the perpetrators.”
Alec James, VP Welfare & Diversity, described the events as “unacceptable.” “I was deeply saddened to see this had happened. We were in touch straight away with affected students and took it to University management. We will meet as students, sabbs and University to make sure this doesn’t happen again, this should be a place that all students feel welcome in.”