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Students Say University Officials Took Weeks To Act After Swastika Graffiti Was Found On Campus

"Whoever did it was clearly trying to shock and offend," a student told BuzzFeed News.

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Susannah Keogh

Officials took almost two weeks to act on reports of a swastika carved into a wooden door inside student halls at Exeter University, students have said.

A history student who found the swastika at the first-year Birk Grange accommodation on 29 January said she was "shocked" by the discovery.

"It seemed awful that someone would have carved it into a door," the 19-year-old student, who wished to remain anonymous, told BuzzFeed News.

After she and a friend told the university about the swastika, she said, it was "about two weeks" before the offensive symbol was removed "around the 8th", and only after the student newspaper Exepose sent the administration photos of the graffiti.

"It was pretty big and there was no indication it was anything other than a symbol of hate," she said, adding that "quite a few people" saw it as it was in a corridor near one of the flats. "Whoever did it was clearly trying to shock and offend."

Exeter University, in a statement to BuzzFeed News, said the director of campus services "launched an urgent investigation as soon as he was made aware and the graffiti and offensive slogan were immediately removed".

"Racism in any form is not tolerated," the spokesperson continued. "The University believes any form of racist or discriminatory behaviour is unacceptable".

The Union of Jewish Students described the incident as "abhorrent", adding that it came only months after it emerged students wore T-shirts with the slogan "The Holocaust was a good time" during freshers' week.

"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," the group told BuzzFeed News.

A spokesperson for the Community Security Trust (CST) charity, which works to protect Jewish people from anti-Semitism, said it was worried about an increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidences in the past year.

"The concern is that you get copycat incidences," they told BuzzFeed News. "The more publicity these things get, the more people who are anti-Semitic, or racist, or of a far-right mindset, will get excited by it and will think, 'Oh, I'll go and do that on my campus.'"

They added: "Sometimes you do see coordinated, far-right activity in parts of the country, [but] not often on campus ... It can simply be copycat, especially with something like this."

Commenting specifically on this incident, they said: "The fact that it has happened inside university accommodation, somewhere in theory it's only students would have access, is likely to cause a lot more concern for Jewish students."

It is the latest in a spate of anti-Semitic incidents on university campuses in Britain.

Earlier this month, identical leaflets – seemingly printed from an obscure conspiracy website – were found in at least four campuses. The leaflets were condemned by the CST, who labelled them a "Holocaust denial campaign".

Last week the CST released its annual report of hate incidents in the UK. The charity said 2016 had seen a "record" high in hate crimes in the UK, with incidents on university campuses significantly up on 2015.

Students In London, Scotland, And Cambridge Have Found The Same Anti-Semitic Leaflets On Campus

Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rose Troup Buchanan at

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