Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Tuesday, December 05, 2023

A gray swastika was spray-painted on the side of the house being built by traditionally Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, according to the University Police Department.

The symbol was discovered on Thursday night by a member of AEPi Fraternity, who was visiting the partially completed house at 14 Fraternity Row. It was reported to UPD on Sunday after a meeting of the fraternity's executive board.

The incident follows another occurrence in early March where someone broke in through the fraternity's front door and defecated on the floor inside, said UPD Capt. Jeff Holcomb.

Fraternity members also noticed a broken window in the back of the house around the same time, though they chose not to file a report with UPD, Holcomb said.

He said it's still not clear when the swastika was spray-painted on the house and said UPD had no suspects or leads as of Monday afternoon.

"If you've just got spray-painting on a building with no witnesses and no determining evidence, it's kind of hard to follow up on," he said.

The damage to the house was estimated to be $200 or less, making it a second-degree misdemeanor, he said. UPD would likely upgrade the charge to make it a hate crime, he said, which would bump up the charge to a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

"We're taking this very seriously," said Alex Mehler, a member of the fraternity.

"This was a hate crime," Mehler said. "An act of anti-Semitism."

He said the fraternity is trying to make people in the community aware of the incident to prevent similar things from happening in the future.

"This is how hatred starts; this is how the genocide started," he said, referring to the Holocaust.

Mehler said the fraternity has been in contact with UF officials as well as members of state government such as Rep. Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, the House majority leader who has advocated for Jewish issues.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

"They are all outraged that… such an act happened on the UF campus," he said.

Matt Friedman, who became the new president of AEPi on Monday, said the fraternity doesn't know who is responsible and said he realizes it may not even be someone from UF or Gainesville.

"We're not pointing fingers at anyone," he said.

"We're just trying to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Patricia Telles-Irvin, UF's vice president for student affairs, sent a letter to the fraternity on Monday offering her support.

"It is unfortunate such an act of vandalism, particularly with a symbol which has come to stand for hate and reminds us of one of the greatest tragedies of human history, occurred on the University of Florida campus," she wrote.

The Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism, bigotry and extremism, according to its Web site, also issued a news release from its Florida branch condemning the incident.

Mehler said the fraternity plans to move into their new house in time for fall semester.

Luke Napoli, vice president of neighboring Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity, expressed disappointment after walking out of his house's kitchen Monday around noon and seeing the spray-painted swastika.

"That's not cool," he said, adding he doesn't think his fraternity is responsible.

"Why would we put that up?" he asked. "We have to look at it."

He didn't rule out the possibility entirely, though.

"I hope its not one of our new, stupid young guys," he said.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.