Concerning graffiti has been found carved on the walls of the University of Exeter’s Halls of Residence
Exeter University has come under recent scrutiny after a swastika and ‘Rights for Whites’ sign were found graffitied in a halls of residence.
The swastika was carved on the doors of the campus hall, Birks Grange, and has since been removed.
This comes after the criticism of an Exeter Fresher’s Week sports social that included T-shirts emblazoned with handwritten racist slogans including the words “the Holocaust was a good time”.
The University of Exeter’s spokesperson has responded, saying that: “The university believes any form of racist or discriminatory behaviour is unacceptable and the actions of those involved are in contrast to the vast majority of students, who help to build our tolerant and inclusive university community.”
One student from Birks Grange described the “confusion” over the offensive images, pointing out that the swastika carved was slightly obscured and may have been there for some time. Upon noticing the sign, the university immediately conducted interviews of each member of the corridor in an attempt to find the culprit but have, as of yet, been unsuccessful.
This has come at a time where many of the leading Russell Group Universities are facing allegations of on-campus racism, leading to questions regarding the anti-Semitic nature of Britain’s universities. Baroness Deech, former senior proctor at Oxford University, has warned that Britain’s top universities are becoming no-go zones zones for Jewish students.
According to Baroness Deech, “amongst Jewish students, there is gradually a feeling that there are certain universities that you should avoid”, and she continued to include both University of Manchester and Exeter in her list. These comments have been contentious however, with the Union of Jewish Students arguing that the “UJS rejects the notion that there are ‘certain universities that you [Jewish students] should avoid”.
Whilst they acknowledge that there has been a recent spike in anti-Semitism in universities, they deny the claims of Baroness Deech “fully portray the experiences of Jewish students. It does a disservice to the thousands who are able to freely express their Jewish identities in whichever way they choose”.
Nonetheless, this comes at a time where UK Universities are facing a definite increase in anti-Semitic behaviour. The police were called to UCL after a group of Jewish students were barricaded in a room in the heat of an anti-Israel rally — they were told it would be unsafe for them to leave the room alone, and were forced to wait for the police to escort them across campus.
The University of Cambridge has seen the distribution of leaflets that have denied the occurrence of the Holocaust.
The Community Security Trust recently reported figures showing that anti-Semitic attacks against students or professors have doubled in 2016 in comparison to 2015.