Swastika tiles will be covered up

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A Hindu symbol that resembles the Nazi Swastika located in the middle entrance of Asbury Hall - NATALIE BRUNINI (1 of 1)
A Hindu symbol that resembles the Nazi Swastika located at the middle entrance of Asbury Hall – NATALIE BRUNINI

As a response to the swastika tiles found during last summer’s renovation, the foyers in Asbury Hall will be renovated to hold bulletin boards.

President Mark McCoy sent an email to the DePauw University community early Tuesday morning updating student’s about the swastika tiles in Asbury.

The email gave four reasons for the renovations: the tiles could not be preserved without significant investment, there was no significant artistic quality to the tiles, there was a potential for misrepresentation to the community and visitors, and that the tiles were offensive to many people in the DePauw community.

Senior Sarah Cooper said she is appreciative of President McCoy’s decision because of the negative connotation associated with the symbol. “Walking past [the symbol] every day made me uncomfortable,” Cooper said.

President McCoy said he wants to highlight DePauw as an inclusive place. “It would be different if we were saving Michelangelo or something,” said President McCoy. “The tiles were probably just something from the 1920s Home Depot sale, so why would we invest so much money in saving something of little value.”

Kate Smanik, the assistant dean of students for spirituality, service and social justice, said in an email that the decision to cover the tiles was not easy to make. “Whenever we take down symbols that have important meanings, we are likely to upset people in our community,” said Smanik. “This is why it was so important to take the time to get a wide variety of thoughtful feedback.”

Senior Armaan Patel, DePauw student government vice president, said he welcomed the forum Interfaith put on. However, he felt the forum should have happened earlier and there should have been more of an effort to include Southeast Asian voices. “Speaking strictly as a religious studies major, I was looking forward to create a dialogue on such a sensitive and (rightly so) inflammatory topic,” Patel said.

In response to covering the tiles, there will be a display of spiritual symbols in the Hartman House. Spiritual life will meet in February for their retreat and talk about how the display will be developed.

CORRECTION: Patel said inflammatory in his quote.