Graffiti at Lewis & Clark College causes Jewish students to feel ‘unsafe’

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Police at Lewis & Clark College in South Portland are investigating graffiti on the school after several buildings on campus were spray-painted.

Many of the messages were against the school and contained pro-Palestine and anti-police rhetoric.

Campus police found a pair of individuals who were spraying buildings around 2 a.m. on Monday, but the two suspects ran off before they could be detained.

Four buildings, a bridge and some Lewis & Clark College vehicles were also spray-painted.

The head of campus Jewish groups said the graffiti made Jewish students feel unsafe.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen graffiti around this time every year at Lewis & Clark around Indigenous Peoples Day. But this year, with the addition of free Palestine, given the timing of the violence we are seeing in Israel from Hamas and the violence we are seeing here, our Jewish communities are feeling unsafe, especially on college campuses” said Hannah Sherman, executive director of PDX Hillel.

The college says it will cost thousands of dollars to fix the damage to buildings and other property.

Lewis & Clark President Robin H. Holmes-Sullivan released a statement saying that threats against any member of their community will not be tolerated.

“I am incredibly saddened by the vandalism to our campus in the early hours today. I am sure you share my shock and dismay. This act demonstrates an appalling lack of respect for the hard work of students, and the staff and faculty that support them.

If you feel impacted, please reach out to your support network or take advantage of the various resources available on campus through the Student Counseling Center, International Students and Scholars, and the Center for Spiritual Life. Anytime the Counseling Service is closed, students can access our Crisis Counseling Service at 503-265-7804. Employees may access help through the Employee Assistance Program. The Ombuds Office is also available to all members of the LC community.

This is not who we are. I know that the vast majority of you are as committed as I am to nurturing our community of care. I am heartbroken that a few individuals sought to disrupt that.

It will not be disrupted. Ours is a campus that values dialogue and interpersonal communication, even in situations of disagreement. Ours is a campus that values empathy and listening, not vandalism of our shared living, learning, and community spaces.

I do want to be clear on one important point: threats against any member of our community will not be tolerated. Our Campus Safety staff work tirelessly to provide a safe environment for all of us. Violent speech aimed at them, or anyone else in our community, is entirely unacceptable.

My work as president of Lewis & Clark is a continuation of my lifelong commitment to students in pursuit of higher education. I am committed to leading Lewis & Clark toward the achievement of our goals; the most important of which is preparing our students to succeed in a complex world. I am focused on collaborating with those in our community who share that commitment.

To fix the damage done will cost tens of thousands of dollars, funds that would have been much better used to increase access and support students.

While this incident has damaged our buildings, we must not and will not allow it to dampen our spirits. I remain more committed than ever to our community, to the success of our students and to LC’s future.”

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