Past swastika on campus found nearby Jewish student club table

Club president believes incidents are connected


Emma Hall

Mendocino Hall is located on the east side of campus of Sacramento State as pictured on Sept. 22, 2022. In an interview with The State Hornet, Shelly Zalezniak, president of the Israeli-Jewish Association, said one of the two swastikas found on Sacramento State’s campus was close to her club table during club week.

Emma Hall, newsletter editor

Correction on Saturday, Sept. 24,2022. – This story have been updated with the following corrections:

1) A  previous version of this article stated that the swastika found near Mendocino Hall on Sept. 2 was the second hate symbol that was found. We have since corrected the article to display it as the first. 

2) The first swastika was found on the back of a pillar (on a wall) in a classroom inside of Mendocino Hall. 

The first swastika, found inside Mendocino Hall at Sacramento State on Sept. 2, was reportedly close to the Israeli-Jewish Association’s club table according to second-year business major Shelly Zalezniak, president of the club.

The Israeli-Jewish association was tabling near Riverfront Center, which is directly across from Mendocino Hall. In an interview with The State Hornet, Zalezniak said both hate crimes are an awakening for people on campus—that hate can happen anywhere. 

While Zalezniak said both swastikas will not make the Sac State Jewish community back down,  both incidents have made her more cautious as a Jewish student.

“I kept thinking how I have to look over my shoulder to see if someone’s going to come at me,” Zalezniak said. “They did this on campus. They did that graffiti. Are they now going to come and attack me or any of my Jewish friends? What does this mean for us? Can we wake up in the morning, go to school and say this won’t happen to us?” 

Since the initial incidents, Zalezniak said Sac State administration and president Nelsen have not reached out to her club. 

Anita Fitzhugh, Sac State’s public information officer, told The State Hornet that Student Organizations and Leadership staff met with the Israeli-Jewish Association in early September. However, the president’s office and Nelsen have not met with IJA. 

According to a campus-wide email president Nelsen sent on Sept. 2, the university believes the swastikas are not related. Sac State is still investigating both incidents and said the individuals responsible will be “held accountable.” 

However, Zalezniak said elsewise. She believes both swastikas are connected. 

“There is no way this is not related,” she said.

In response, Sac State said they’re implementing quarterly campus walk-throughs to “observe the environment and to ensure that [campus] property is not defaced with hate symbols and messages.” 

They also have an Acts of Bias Reporting Tool, provided to report incidents that do not “meet the legal threshold of discrimination yet deserves to be confronted, recognized, and addressed in a systematic manner” according to the application’s form. 

In the meantime, while Zalezniak is grateful for campus emails and the support from the campus community, she hopes the university supports the Israel-Jewish student association.

“No matter how much we tried to show and preach that we’re all inclusive and there’s no place for hate…all that stuff can happen,” she said. “But what matters is how we respond to this and what actions we take.”