Jewish religious symbol destroyed on campus, possible vandalism suspected

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Courtesy photo Glen Buickerood

A Jewish religious symbol located on the lawn behind Goodnow Hall and near Kramer Dining Center was destroyed Friday night. The suspected vandalism is believed to be an act of anti-Semitism.

The symbol, a tent-like structure known as a Sukkah, was a collaboration between Kansas State’s Housing and Dining Services and Hillel, a campus Jewish student organization.

The Sukkah was intended to be a temporary gathering place for Jewish students and community members to eat their meals during the holy week of Sukkot. The structure was large and made of heavy metal poles attached to stakes in the ground.

Between 9:45 p.m. and 11 p.m. Friday, the Sukkah was moved and damaged. Glen Buickerood, graduate student in counseling and liaison between Housing and Dining and KSU Hillel, was among the first to notice the suspected vandalism.

“When I walked past the Sukkah to my car, I noticed something horrible,” Buickerood said in an email to campus leaders. “The Sukkah was gone. The chairs and tables stood where the Sukkah had been. The stakes were still in the ground. Stakes that had been tied to the Sukkah had been pulled out.”

Buickerood is now deferring all questions to the K-State Division of Communications and Marketing, which was closed Sunday afternoon.

The Sukkah was found wrapped around Buickerood’s car approximately 40 yards away, causing damage to the vehicle and leaving the metal poles of the Sukkah bent.

A storm hit the area around the same time on Friday night, though Buickerood said he doubts the winds were strong enough to rip the stakes from the ground, move the structure 40 yards and wrap the Sukkah around his car.

“I believe a group of individuals recognized that the Sukkah was affiliated with Judaism and the Sukkot holiday,” Buickerood said in the email. “This was a direct response to what the Sukkah stands for and represents. “

The K-State Police Department responded within minutes, Buickerood said in the email, and an investigation for property damage is underway. In a phone call Sunday afternoon, K-State Police referred all questions on the incident to the Division of Communications and Marketing.

“What was introduced as an opportunity to support religious diversity within our family has been directly threatened and attacked,” Buickerood said. “There are students who woke up this morning only to find a part of their religious identity, what is meant as a celebration of their faith, destroyed. I can only imagine how they must feel after this incident.”

In response to the damage to the structure, a Sukkot Solidarity Dinner is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Bosco Student Plaza.

Jess Girdler, community coordinator for Housing and Dining, said students will meet in Bosco Plaza and walk to the Sukkah behind Goodnow, following the Jewish tradition of gathering over a meal in the Sukkah during the holy week of Sukkot.

“We are doing this in order to make two things clear: first, hate and religious intolerance have no home on our campus; second, our Jewish neighbors are welcomed and loved and we want to embrace their presence at K-State and in Manhattan,” Girdler said in an online interview.

“We felt it was our responsibility to be allies to the Jewish community, and show our support to them,” Girdler continued. “We have worked closely with Hillel, a Jewish student organization on campus, to ensure that this is done in a respectful way.”

The damage to the Sukkah comes weeks after an incident in which white nationalist posters were put up across campus, prompting backlash and condemnations from several campus organizations. In a statement, K-State officials said the posters were “unwelcome.”

The Collegian will seek comment from K-State’s Division of Communications and Marketing during its regular business hours Monday morning.

Back of Car.jpg
Courtesy photo Glen Buickerood
Car From Distance.jpg
Courtesy photo Glen Buickerood
Front of Car.jpg
Courtesy photo Glen Buickerood

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Leah Zimmerli
Hi there! I’m Leah Zimmerli, the Features Editor. I’m a freshman in political science and journalism from Overland Park, Kansas. I love dogs and making music playlists for my friends. I’m studying journalism because I believe that everyone has a story, and I believe that it is my job as a journalist to help you share yours.
  • guest

    Not to discredit this article, but the Goodnow-Marlatt- Kramer area is a windtunnel. With a storm and it happening at such an early time on a Friday night, I find it strange to jump to a conclusion of vandalism.

    • UrABigot

      Because of the way the Sukkah was broken and where it was strategically placed it seems like vandalism. It’s not a jump to conlusion our of nowhere. There were no shattered windows or any sign that the Sukkah “flew” around the area. If something with metal poles was actually able to be uprooted from the wind, it would have caused a lot more damage than coincidentally only causing damage to the Sukkah and to Glenn Buickerood’s car, the person who arranged to have the Sukkah put up.

      • Skeptic

        It seems more likely if a human was actually involved that they simply don’t like Glenn. I don’t suppose that’s been considered?

      • Skeptic

        Wrong. Enjoy the follow up article.

  • Skeptic

    I find this a little implausible… supposedly someone (or multiple people) knew what this was – I’d argue most don’t – and knew who this person was and then, motivated by hatred, moved this structure over to the car, damaging both the structure and the car in the process? Get real. There was a storm that night. The structure looks like a massive sail. It’s far more plausible that the wind ripped it out of the ground than some students who likely have no clue what a Sukkah is. However, no doubt if it was destroyed by student(s), wouldn’t there be video surveillance of it?

    • Realist

      Well since there was a sign hung up on the Sukkah explaining its purpose and it’s meaning, anyone who approached the hut would have known what it was. There is no video surveillance for that area or else we would know who did the damage. The President of Kansas State University came out with a statement saying that it was foul play. We know antisemitism lives at Kansas State because just last year on holocaust rememberance day there were anti-Jew posters put around the campus. What is more implausible is that a hut that was staked to the ground was able to move *directly next to and *placed around Glenn Buickerood’s car, he is the person who arranged to have the Sukkah put up. It’s not like his car was parked directly next to it. You clearly have no common sense.

      • Skeptical but not rude

        I won’t insult you in the same way you insulted me. Simply because a university president says something is true doesn’t make it true, does it? I realize that the car was not parked directly next to the structure because I read the article. The article says 40 yards, which is well within the distance a storm might blow a structure. So, just to understand what you are saying: one or more individuals stopped at the structure sometime between 9:45 and 11pm, read the sign, and happened to be anti-Jewish. They then removed the structure, damaging it, and moved it 40 yards away, placing it around the car of the guy who *just happens to be* in charge of the whole thing? So these strangers knew who this guy was and what he drove… and there is zero video surveillance available from around this area or the parking lot? This must be one of the few areas on campus that doesn’t have any sort of video security. Also, all this took place during a storm near a busy street… is it possible that there is *any other* way this happened besides rampant anti-semetism at KSU and a remarkably well-researched group of vandals?

      • Skeptical

        Not to pile on here… but you were wrong. Perhaps I do have common sense?

  • GlobalCop

    This was a great opportunity for the Collegian to train its reporters. You failed. Report the truth even if it will hurt some feelings. This was obviously caused by the wind.

    • Uranidiot

      They did report the truth. Even though it hurt some feelings (yours). Sorry that the world isn’t okay with vandals and is not afraid to call out hateful people when needed. Please gain some common sense.

      • Skeptical

        It was bigoted storms, I guess? Not sure how that works… I wonder, will Glenn offer an apology for making the university appear to harbor anti-Jewish vandal groups?

  • Charles

    NOPE — it was the wind. It’s sad when racism is immediately blamed. Kstate is a very welcoming place! http://themercury.com/news/k-state-police-damaged-sukkah-caused-by-weather-not-vandal/article_a9a0d009-bae4-58e0-9b0f-0627bb06a0b3.html