When Professor Elizabeth Midlarsky opened the door to her office at Columbia University she was shocked to see what was on the other side.
“I opened the outer door and almost passed out,” she told CNN, describing the moment she saw two big swastikas spray-painted on the walls of her office. The Nazi symbols were accompanied by derogatory words.
“I was so shaky, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it,” she said.
Midlarsky, who is Jewish, has worked at Columbia’s Teachers College for 28 years. She immediately notified authorities when she was the vandalism.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that the State Hate Crimes Unit will assist with the police investigation.
“I am disgusted by the abhorrent act of anti-Semitism and hate that occurred at Columbia University,” he said in a statement. “We will hold those behind this act responsible to the full extent of the law, and we will rise above this hate.”
Thomas Bailey, the president of Columbia Teachers College also condemned the act in a statement.
“We unequivocally condemn any expression of hatred, which has no place in our society,” Bailey said. “We are outraged and horrified by this act of aggression and use of this vile anti-Semitic symbol against a valued member of our community.”
Columbia University issued its own statement on the crime.
“In light of last month’s horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and this hateful act closer to home, Jewish students and others in our community may be feeling especially vulnerable right now,” the school said.
This is not the first time Midlarsky has been targeted. Her office was also vandalized in 2007 with a swastika, according to the Columbia Spectator.