Members of Alpha Epsilon Pi at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo reacted with shock and horror upon finding their fraternity home vandalized with swastikas and other antisemitic graffiti Saturday morning.
The incident at the Jewish fraternity occurred Friday night during Shabbat, a weekly observance of rest that begins sundown Friday and lasts until sundown Saturday. In a statement released by the fraternity, members said “antisemitism is still the number one cause of hate crimes in the United States.”
“This morning, a hateful group of people committed an antisemitic hate crime on our chapter house,” the fraternity members said in a statement. “We awoke to multiple swastikas and antisemitic statements spray-painted on the front of our house. This was targeted at us, as the Jewish fraternity, and we would like to let the world know that we do not tolerate or condone this behavior.”
The university condemned the incident in a statement sent to students Saturday.
“We are struggling to comprehend the heinous nature of this crime, alongside our Jewish community,” the statement said. “Let us be perfectly clear: behavior that promotes any form of hate and seeks to make members of the community feel unsafe and unwelcome — especially in their own home — has no place in our community.”
Detectives at the San Luis Obispo police department are investigating the vandalism, but as of Monday, they currently have no leads or suspects, the police department told the News-Press.
Many local leaders in the Jewish community were shocked by the incident.
“My reaction (to the incident) was shock and disbelief, followed by anger and revulsion,” Daniel Meisel, regional director for the Santa Barbara/Tri-County Anti-Defamation League, told the News-Press in an email. “This kind of reported hateful conduct, whether in the form of antisemitism, racism, or provocation, simply has no place in our community and is particularly concerning when occurring on a residence or school campus.”
The JCC-Federation of San Luis Obispo also released a statement Monday, condemning the antisemitic act.
“We work to ensure San Luis Obispo is a safe and welcoming community for our Jewish students, community, neighbors and friends of all backgrounds,” the statement read.
To prevent these hateful acts in the future, Mr. Meisel said the key is “communal condemnation and meaningful engagement.”
“While it is difficult to prevent this kind of behavior from people who are already infected with hatred, we strongly believe that antisemitism can be prevented with education about antisemitism and anti-bias curriculum,” Mr. Meisel said. “Awareness of antisemitism and the hurt it has caused both in the present day and through the centuries can help to prevent these kinds of attacks in the future.”
To offset the cost of damages to the fraternity, members of Alpha Pi Epsilon began a GoFundMe page, with a goal of raising $1,300 to pay for damages and install security cameras. In a matter of days, the page garnered more than $18,000 in donations as of 7 p.m. Monday, and the fraternity members plan to donate the remaining funds to Yad Vashem and the JCC-Federation.
To donate, go to gofundme.com/f/alpha-epsilon-pi-slo-antisemitism-awareness.