NORTON — Wheaton College officials are investigating another hate crime incident, this time a swastika drawn in snow on a sign near the center of campus.
The incident occurred last week and is the third this semester. All are currently under investigation.
In late October and early November, a swastika was drawn on the dorm room door of a Jewish student and derogatory words about women were written on a white board in a common area at Pine Hall.
In the most recent incident, a student spotted a swastika drawn in the snow on a sign near the area of campus known as the Dimple on the night of Dec. 2. The student reported it to Wheaton Public Safety officials.
“The investigation into this and the earlier incidents is continuing,” Michael Graca, the college spokesman, said Tuesday.
In an email to students and faculty, school President Dennis Hanno said, “I cannot stress this enough: Anti-Semitism, bigotry and other forms of hatred have no place on the Wheaton campus.”
“The college will continue to search for those responsible for these acts of hatred and intolerance — and hold them accountable — but each of us can make a difference by purposefully engaging with and supporting each other,” Hanno said.
In the spring, the college will continue special programming including a “community conversation” on hate speech and crime “to better understand this type of violent discriminatory behavior and how to prevent it,” Hanno said.
Wheaton is not alone in dealing with hate crimes on campus.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there was a 40 percent increase in campus hate crimes from 2011 to 2016.
According to the FBI, there were 7,120 hate crime incidents nationally in 2018, a slight decrease from the 7,175 reported in 2017. However, hate crimes increased 17 percent from 2016 to 2017, from 6,121 to 7,175.
Hate crimes are defined by the agency as criminal offenses against persons, property or society that were motivated by the offender’s bias against the victim’s race, ethnicity, ancestry, gender, gender identity, religion, disability or sexual orientation.