Students were upset and disappointed by the anti-semitic flyers that were found in academic buildings on campus last week.
Director of safety and security John Blaisdell said that the incident occurred at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, October 8th, when Marist security received two calls reporting a
suspicious person on campus, as well as offensive and anti-semitic flyers that were found in Dyson Hall and the Lowell Thomas Communications Center. The flyers depicted the newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as well as several Jewish senators including Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer. The senators had the Star of David printed on their heads, while Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had the phrase “Good Goy” printed on hers. The bottom of the poster read, “Every time some anti-white, anti-American, anti-freedom event takes place, you look at it and it’s Jews behind it.”
Blaisdell said that security was dispatched, and that the officers found the suspect rather quickly. He was described as a man wearing a dark hoodie and rubber gloves carrying a satchel. Initially, this person had no interest or desire to speak with the officers. However, they followed him and continued to ask him what he was doing. He eventually cooperated and claimed that the flyers were part of an “educational outreach” effort.
The officers told the man that he was not welcome as a guest or to hang flyers, and that if he returned to campus he would be arrested. The individual was not a Marist student, and Blaisdell said that they have no reason to believe that he has any affiliation with the school.
According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, the same flyers were spotted at Vassar College and Dutchess Community College, as well as UC Davis in California. Blaisdell said that Marist security has been working with Vassar and Dutchess regarding the issue. He also noted that incidents like this have happened in the past.
“They’re generally flyers or information that don’t promote an inclusive community,” Blaisdell said.
While security handled the situation quickly and efficiently, students are still concerned about the intruder and about the dissemination of hateful rhetoric on campus. Rabbi Boruch Zelouf, who serves as the Chabad Rabbi for Marist students, said that he was disappointed and surprised that something like this would happen at Marist. He also said that students have come to him to talk about how the incident emotionally impacted them. However, Zelouf emphasized the importance of responding with positive action and togetherness rather than fear and discouragement.
“It should not put us in a state of despair, but it should push us forward,” Zelouf said.
Lauren Vicenzi, the Vice President of Marist Hillel, was also shocked and disappointed by the fliers. Vicenzi said that Hillel held a meeting the day after the incident happened. They all agreed that Marist handled the situation very well, and that this is part of a much larger societal issue. Like Rabbi Zelouf, Vicenzi also wanted to handle the incident in a positive and constructive manner.
“We took it as an opportunity to solidify our community,” Vicenzi said. “The Jewish population at Marist is significantly low, which isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes it can make you feel isolated.”
Students of all religious backgrounds found the fliers to be hurtful and alarming. “I’m not Jewish, but I still think it’s pretty scary that something like this happened on our campus,” said senior David Cyganowski.
The Jewish community at Marist wants to make the best out of this negative situation. “We don’t fight hate with hate,” said Rabbi Zelouf. “We fight hate with positivity and increased light.”