UGA investigating swastikas drawn in campus buildings

University of Georgia officials continued an investigation Friday into who drew swastikas on message boards in two residence halls on its Athens campus.

“I am appalled by such offensive and outrageous displays of hate,” UGA President Jere Morehead wrote in a message Thursday to students, faculty and employees. “Let me be clear: this type of behavior has no place on our campus. The University of Georgia is defined by our shared values. Respect for others, diversity of thought, a love of learning, and a drive to expand knowledge and make a positive difference — these values unite us as a campus community and inspire our academic endeavors.”

A swastika is used as a symbol of anti-Semitism or of Nazism. The symbols were drawn at Creswell and Russell halls, according to the Red & Black, UGA’s student newspaper.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report in October that found religious-based hate crime on college campuses has increased significantly nationwide over the last decade. Religious-based hate crimes reported to the U.S. Department of Education increased from 103 in 2009 to 189 in 2017, and crimes reported to the U.S. Department of Justice increased from 24 in 2009 to 59 in 2017, the GAO report found.

Most of the hate crimes were anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim. About 60% of the crimes were vandalism. There were 13 crimes in Georgia since 2009, an AJC review of the Department of Education’s database found.

The GAO recommended that the Justice Department update and share more information about its resources to help address religious-based hate crimes on college campuses. The department agreed with the recommendations.