Jewish religious symbol destroyed on campus, possible vandalism suspected

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

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.