A whiteboard in an American University classroom was reportedly marked up with a swastika accompanied by the phrase “Go Trump” on Friday morning, bringing to the Northwest DC campus a wave of bigoted incidents that have been reported across the country since Tuesday.
The drawing was first reported by the Eagle, American’s student newspaper. The Eagle also writes that the swastika was later altered to include the words “peace” and “love,” and the Trump modified into “Drumpf,” the surname of some of President-elect Donald Trump‘s ancestors that the comedian John Oliver attempted to turn into a punch line earlier this year.
Swastika spotted in Ward 4. Someone before I came in tried to modify it, but the fact is someone still drew it in the first place. pic.twitter.com/ehaD5tpLQV
— SM (@floreashelby) November 11, 2016
American University officials did not respond to Washingtonian about how the school is responding to the drawing, but in an interview, Devontae Torriente, the student-government president, says campus tensions have run hot since Tuesday night.
“I think in the midst of everything that’s happened, there’s a very real and legitimate fear students from marginalized backgrounds have,” Torriente says. “I think they’re genuinely scared for their lives.”
American’s campus erupted Wednesday when a large group of students assembled to protest Trump’s election. The demonstration featured chants including “Stand up to racism!” and “Fuck white America!” and at one point included the burning of a US flag.
In a campus-wide email Friday, university president Neil Kerwin acknowledged the frustrations that led to Wednesday’s protest, but also scolded the demonstrators for some of their actions.
“I am disappointed that an opportunity to express deeply felt concerns about the results and implications of the election became an incident that has further divided members of our community and reflected poorly on our university,” he wrote. “The university in no way condones, promotes, or supports the burning of the American flag. Yes, the Supreme Court made it quite clear that this specific act is protected expression under the First Amendment. But, it is also an act of profound disrespect that left many members of our community outraged, deeply offended, and disappointed.”
Throughout his campaign, Trump had the vocal support of outwardly racist individuals and groups, including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke (whom Trump disavowed after extensive prodding) and the “alt-right,” which promotes a philosophy of “white nationalism.” Trump’s supporters on Twitter have also been responsible for a wave anti-Semitic attacks, especially against Jewish journalists, according to a report last month by the Anti-Defamation League. While the ADL said Trump is not directly responsible for these acts, his campaign failed to distance itself from the social-media users behind them, and ran advertisements seen by many as containing coded anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Torriente says Wednesday’s protest was not simply a response to an electoral-vote tally. “It goes back to validating how students are feeling,” he says. “I don’t think the conversation can be relegated to Democrats-versus-Republicans rhetoric. We have had candidates who have enacted policies that perpetuate racism and sexism. Here we have a candidate who campaigned explicitly on that. The delegitimization of humanity won.”