Rutgers administration responds to Jan. 15 hate crime allegations
Sara Rosen entered her room to find a 2.5-foot swastika taped to her ceiling on the night of Jan. 15.
The Jewish School of Arts and Sciences senior said she felt threatened and immediately called the police.
When police arrived at the scene, they began questioning Rosen about her relationship with her roommates, one of whom was responsible for the swastika, she said.
The roommate, a School of Engineering senior who could not be reached for comment before press time, had intended for the swastika to be a display of his Buddhist faith, said Kai Rau, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior.
“I was fairly surprised, because why would there be a swastika on the ceiling,” she said. “Then I came to realize (my) friend is a Buddhist.”
Before being appropriated by Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, the swastika was a religious symbol sacred to the Buddhist faith, signifying abundance and eternity, Rau said.
But Rosen was unconvinced.
“One of the roommates decided to claim that they randomly decided to put up a buddhist peace symbol,” she said to a Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) officer. “Is that something you really believe based on everything that has gone on here?”
RUPD officers conducted an investigation of the events by interviewing Rosen, her roommates and other witnesses, said University spokesperson Jeffrey Tolvin.
Details about the case were forwarded to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, who determined “there was not probable cause to charge the suspect with a bias crime,” Tolvin said in an email.
The Office of Student Conduct carried out a trial. During the trial, Rosen’s roommate was put in temporary housing on Busch campus.
Following a judicial review, he was removed from University housing.
“He does not live close to school and currently does not have any housing options, and he was denied any refund,” Rau said
Rosen said she was put in housing for those with safety concerns after one week spent at her family home.
“This isn’t ok, this can’t be brushed under the table,” she said. “It felt like I was not being taken seriously enough (by the Office of Student Conduct).”
Nikita Biryukov is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikitabiryukov_ for more.