Interfaith Council aims to get Swastikas removed from Asbury Hall

Interfaith Interns table outside of Asbury Hall
DePauw University Interfaith Interns are asking students to voice their opinions about the fate of tiles in Asbury that are swastikas, but not the ones used by Nazi Germany. BRYTTNI CARPENTER | THE DEPAUW

The council wants a more inclusive display of religious symbols

Members of the Interfaith Council displayed a photo of a swastika outside of Asbury Hall on Friday. Senior Sarah Cooper said their goal is to get members of the community to think about what should be done with the tiles that have been in the Asbury hall entrance ways since the 1920’s.

Cooper first brought raised concern about the tiles and brought them to the attention Adam Cohen, Swim and dive coach and the head of Jewish Life at DePauw University. On Sept 22 members of the Interfaith Council set up a table in the academic quad to learn what students thought about the symbol. “We are trying to raise awareness as the Interfaith Council on campus about the symbol and its multiple meanings,” said Cooper.

Cooper said the goal is to exchange the tiles for other religious symbols that have a more positive connotation. Kate Smanik, the assistant dean of students for spirituality, service and social justice, said it would be different if there was a display of symbols. “The Swastika in that context is different,” said Smanik. “If you go and look at the tiles there are no Jewish symbols up, and when there’s a mix of symbols and Judaism is included that probably feels different.”

Zoe Yeshayahu, president of Hillel, said she wants it to be something all religious organizations do together. “What we want to do is basically get all of the religious groups together and have everyone pick out their own tile and put them up together,” Yeshayahu said.

Cooper does not think this would be excluding towards the Hindu community. “We want to reach out to the Hindu community and ask them. We don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.”

Cooper hopes there is another tile with a more positive connotation they would be willing to put to replace the swastikas.