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Columbia Spectator Staff

A swastika was found spray-painted on the office door of a Teachers College professor known for her research on the Holocaust.

Professor Elizabeth Midlarsky, who is Jewish, said she feels personally attacked. "It's not going to stop me but I'm certainly shaken. I go back and forth between frightened and furious."

Officers from the New York Police Department's Crime Scene unit and Public Safety guards huddled around 328 Horace Mann Hall early this afternoon. Police said the swastika was found at 8 a.m. this morning, and they are treating the incident as a hate crime. In a statement, administrators said that the swastika was found on the door of a Jewish professor.

Midlarsky belongs to the department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology. CCP is where Madonna Constantine, the African American TC professor who had a noose hung on her door three weeks ago, works.

The swastika was found after a spate of bias incidents at Teachers College and the University. In addition to the noose incident, two Jewish TC professors received anti-Semitic materials last week.

"I feel it was an act in cowardice because it was done when no one was here, apparently," Midlarsky said. "I'm very open about the fact that I'm Jewish, the fact that I study the Holocaust and have been for many years and apparently someone tried to make me a target."

TC President Susan Fuhrman and Provost Tom James sent an e-mail at 1 p.m. notifying the TC community of the hate crime. "Clearly this action is a serious hate crime, and just as clearly TC and its faculty members are the focus of a malicious campaign to cause fear." The e-mail said TC had been targeted because "Teachers College is and historically has been a center for deep multi-cultural work."

Recent bias incidents have not been confined to the TC campus. Anti-Semitic graffiti was found in a bathroom stall in Lewisohn Hall earlier this month, while in September, Islamophobic graffiti was found on the walls of a bathroom in the International Affairs Building.

Fuhrman and James wrote that the perpetrator will be brought to justice. "We will do everything necessary to find and punish those who have committed these acts," the statement said. "Such vicious actions are the work of hate-filled, angry individuals who have no place here or in any community that values inclusion and respect. As an institution, we repudiate them and their actions."

Midlarsky said that the act was intolerable. "There are people who are black, who are Jewish, who are in other groups, who have been historically discriminated against and who need to hear the community in expressing support," Midlarsky said. "I hope that they'll catch the person or group. I understand there's a low probability in that but I hope it happens. When you don't know it's more frightening."

James' office said Wednesday afternoon that the TC administration was not taking questions.

Laura Schreiber contributed to this article.

Teachers College Anti-semitism
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