A window of Texas Hillel was broken last Saturday in an act of vandalism currently being investigated by the UT and Austin Police Departments.
Texas Hillel, a Jewish student center located on San Antonio Street in West Campus, organizes social activism and community volunteer events for UT’s Jewish population. At 2 a.m. Saturday morning, their window was broken. The organization reported the incident to UTPD and APD later that morning, said Margo Sack, director of Jewish student life at Texas Hillel.
UTPD, APD, and University administrators are currently investigating whether the vandalism was specifically meant to target the Jewish community, Sack said.
“We hope swift action is taken to hold those responsible to account,” Texas Hillel said in a statement to The Daily Texan. “We continue to work with our campus and community partners to ensure all Jewish students feel safe and welcome on campus, and that incidents like this do not happen again. Texas Hillel is here to engage and connect with any students or faculty who are impacted by this incident, and we welcome members of our community to join us in developing proactive ways to process and address these issues.”
History junior Rachel Sasiene serves as the engagement chair on the Student Executive Council at Texas Hillel. Sasiene said the Jewish community on campus should remain united regardless of the intent of the vandalism.
“I am appalled at the act of violence against the place where I and fellow students spend hours everyday,” Sasiene said in an email. “These acts of intimidation are unfortunately not new to Jewish students and do not frighten us. I continue to stand firm in my Jewish identity and refuse to live in fear.”
UT President Gregory Fenves released a statement regarding the weekend’s incident, citing last week’s town hall on campus.
“I am extremely troubled by the vandalism at Texas Hillel,” Fenves said. “The university will assist Austin police as they investigate and determine if this was an act of hate against Jewish students. As the UT community made clear at last week’s town hall, acts of hate — whether posters targeting Muslims and immigrants or a rock thrown at Hillel — have no place here. We will do everything we can to support our students who were affected by this.”
Geological sciences junior Brian Brochstein serves on the Texas Hillel Board of Directors as well as on Texas Hillel’s Student Executive Council as the leadership chair. Brochstein said Texas Hillel’s student community is not letting the incident affect the organization’s regular operations.
“We are not intimidated and are moving forward with all of our regularly scheduled programming,” Brochstein said in an email. “The support we have received has been tremendous and we are extremely grateful, especially for that from the University and President Fenves.”
The investigation into the incident by UTPD, APD, and University administrators is still ongoing, Sack said.