University of Denver is investigating a string of antisemitic acts on campus

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The University of Denver campus. October 5, 2021.

University of Denver officials say they’re investigating a series of antisemitic acts on campus last week.  

The vandalism included the gluing of pork products to a student’s dorm room door as well as three separate cases of mezuzot being “taken down and defiled,” according to the student organization DU Hillel. 

Mezuzot are prayer parchments with Hebrew verses from the Torah placed on doorways and entrances into homes. Abrahamic rules prohibit the use or consumption of pork. 

“We stand together in deploring these acts,” the university said in a letter to the student body released Tuesday.

Daniel Bennett, the executive director for Hillel of Colorado, said students were returning from a Sabbath retreat in the mountains when they discovered the vandalized doors.

“To us this is a bias-motivated crime and a message crime, with somebody giving the message that we don't want you to feel safe as a Jew,” Bennett said. “And it impacts not only those targeted, in this case Jewish students, but it impacts the broader Jewish community and all marginalized communities on campus. This stuff never stays localized.”

Bennett says there has been a rise in antisemitic speech and “innuendo” on campuses across Colorado last summer and in the fall semester, including swastikas and “KKK” scratched in front of school buildings, antisemitic posters hung from the Evans pedestrian bridge near campus, and threats against students that invoked Hitler and the Holocaust.

But Bennett added that universities on the East and West coasts — particularly Ivy League schools — have seen an even more extreme uptick.

“They've been targeted much more,” Bennett said. “But we have had an increase, in the eight years I've been here, that I would say is extremely significant.” 

“We want to be very clear that these acts are not acceptable within DU’s community, and acknowledge the harm that has been caused to members of our community,” DU Vice Chancellor Todd Adams said in a statement. 

“We each have commitments to make,” the statement said. “Importantly, we call on our community members to be accountable for our community. This means holding oneself and one’s community responsible when harm is caused.”

The university’s statement also asked anyone with information on the incidents to contact the Title IX office. 

Denver Police had no comment on the incidents when contacted by CPR.