- During uproar, Mizzou faculty downplayed anti-Semitic attacks even as they loudly defended black and other minority students
- Anti-Jewish racism included Swastika smeared in faeces
- Nazi salute ‘Heil’ graffiti appeared on dorm walls, together with another Swastika
- After this was removed, the Swastika graffiti reappeared with sign ‘you’ve been warned’
- Jewish fraternity then had its window smashed in
Our exclusive emails show the shocking lack of interest Mizzou faculty showed in anti-Jewish racism – and the totally different way the college treated racism towards African-Americans.
- Top Mizzou official: Jewish students’ complaint “an overreaction … but this is the world we live in”
- E-mails: Mizzou officials didn’t want statements issued on anti-Semitic incidents
- Had already spoken out college-wide on racism against African Americans
- Parent: “when I will get a statement from you about the horrific anti-Semitic graffiti found again on campus? ..it is not as important to you as ‘race’ issues..”
- “Diversity” Faculty prevented a public statement about racism against Jewish students – and seemed to say that anti-semitism was NOT racism
- Mizzou “Diversity” Email: “I would delete ‘this time directed at our Jewish students.’ The swastika could be anti-Semitic or racist or both… say we didn’t issue a public statement”
Last fall, as a handful of racist incidents and subsequent protests sent the University of Missouri into chaos, the members of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity reached out to police about a possible hate crime. Their window had been kicked in, the fraternity reported, and they feared it was because they are a Jewish fraternity.
The university’s chief of police emailed Cathy Scroggs, the vice chancellor for student affairs, about the frat’s concern on Oct. 17. Scroggs forwarded the note to Chancellor Loftin Bowen, adding: “Perhaps an over reaction by the fraternity, but this is the world we live in right now.”
A review of 7,400 pages of university correspondence sent last fall during the crisis on campus — obtained exclusively by Heat Street and National Review — shows that the university downplayed allegations of anti-Semitism on campus, even as it vocally responded to incidents reportedly targeting black and other minority students.
(Neither Scroggs nor the president of Alpha Epsilon Pi had responded to detailed emailed inquiries from Heat Street and National Review, as of publication.)
Just a week after the vandalism at the Jewish fraternity, a swastika was scrawled in feces on the bathroom wall of a dormitory.
These weren’t isolated incidents: In April 2015, a swastika and the word “heil” were found written in a residence hall; a day later, after that graffiti had been scrubbed off, another swastika appeared in the dorm’s stairwell, along with the words, “You’ve been warned,” the Columbia Missourian reported.
University officials remained silent about the vandalism at the Jewish fraternity and the feces swastika for several days, and even when the incident became public, they were divided about how to respond to the two new possible incidents last fall, emails show.
Chancellor Loftin wrote to his colleagues on Nov. 2 that he wanted to issue a statement, just as he had done in response to racial slurs targeted at members of the Legion of Black Collegians earlier in October.
His draft statement included a reference to how “our campus experienced another instance of racism and hate, this time directed at our Jewish students,” adding that the university “did not immediately react to this latest incident in order to give law enforcement time to investigate and possibly identify the perpetrator(s).”
But five other key university officials, including some in the marketing and communications department, as well as the chief diversity officer, quickly advised Loftin against issuing a statement.
“We are in a cycle where we will engender more media attention, get ‘blowback’ from being ‘late’ with this message—none of this is positive,” wrote the vice chancellor for marketing and communications, recommending the chancellor meet one-on-one with Jewish students and a rabbi.
Ellen Eardley, the Title IX Administrator and assistant vice provost, wanted a statement issued, though with a few edits: “I would delete ‘this time directed at our Jewish students.’ The swastika could be anti-Semitic or racist or both. I would also say we didn’t issue a public statement rather than we didn’t react.”
The lack of response from Mizzou leadership garnered attention beyond the university.
On Nov. 5, 36 organizations, including the fraternity, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the Israel Peace Initiative, and the Israel Group, signed a letter to the chancellor, saying they were “very concerned about the safety and well-being of Jewish students at the University of Missouri.”
The letter notes that racist slurs directed at black students received “vigorous condemnation,” including “a recorded message expressing [the chancellor’s] outrage over what had happened.” It adds: “We are dismayed that neither [the chancellor] nor any other MU administrator has yet to publicly address this act of blatant anti-Semitism, which clearly targets Jewish students and causes them to feel threatened and unsafe.”
Loftin wrote back, saying he had met with Jewish student leaders, and, at the request of the university police department, “I refrained from making a public statement so that my remarks would not compromise the investigation. … In these situations, I am forced with a choice between issuing a broad condemnation of a nonspecific bias incident or compromising an investigation.”
The 36 organizations didn’t buy that response.
“We cannot understand how an on-going investigation into the identify of the perpetrator(s) would prevent you from speaking out publicly and forcefully against this despicable act,” a second letter from the same 36 organizations says. It adds that with earlier reports of racism on campus, Loftin spoke publicly “without hesitation, without waiting for any other party to react.”
“We hope that you would express the same immediate concern for the safety and well-being of Jewish students that you most commendably did for African-American students,” the letter says.
The university’s hushed response also got the attention of at least one Jewish parent, who wrote to the chancellor: “I am curious when I will get a statement from you about the recent horrific anti-Semitic graffiti found again on campus? It seems to me that it is not as important to you as ‘race’ issues seem to be.”
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Independent Women’s Forum and the Steamboat Institute.