Police arrest two after Swastika appears in Royal Holloway’s Library

Police have confirmed two people have been arrested after imagery featuring a Nazi Swastika was discovered on the library terrace last week. The printout, showing the flag of Israel edited to include the Swastika, was discovered on the 14th of May on the terrace of the University’s library. According to Surrey Police, ‘a number of reports of hate crime’ at the university are being investigated.

The image featuring the swastika first came to campus-wide attention when a student posted a picture in a Facebook group saying “Whichever [EXPLETIVE] thought it was okay to put the Nazi swastika on our library terrace, [EXPLETIVE] you. I’ve taken your [EXPLETIVE] little sign down that was very neatly taped. You have no place at this university and I hope you get kicked out.”

According to a statement by Surrey Police the individuals, a man from Egham aged 21, and a 19 year old woman from Englefield Green, were arrested “on suspicion of offences contrary to section 18 of the Public Order Act. They were both issued with police bail earlier this evening (19 May) while our investigation continues. This relates to a number of reports of hate crime at Royal Holloway University. We are working closely with the university as our investigation progresses.”

The University’s Director of Student and Support Services, Jon Howden-Evans, said in an online statement :

Last weekend we witnessed unacceptable behaviour on campus and online; three individuals have been identified as being at the centre of actions linked to the display or incitement of racial hatred. The behaviour was reported to the Police, and arrests have been made. We are also applying our own College sanctions.

At Royal Holloway, we have a zero tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and abuse of any kind. I want to assure you that we do not and will not hesitate to apply the full range of sanctions available to us where cases of misconduct are reported. We work closely with Surrey Police and formally report incidents which we believe warrant their attention. 

I am grateful to all of you who contacted the College with your concerns last week, and to those among you have taken time to meet with me to discuss your concerns. With your support we, together with the Police, have been able to take swift action, and we will not hesitate to do so again.

If you are concerned about your safety or wellbeing, or that of someone you know, please reach out to us via [email protected].

Dr. Jon Howden-Evans. Director, Student and Academic Services.

The statement follows a message to the university community over the weekend by Principal Professor Paul Layzell, who said he had written to the local MP to encourage the government to play its full role in diffusing tensions in the region. Within the same message, Professor Layzell also urged people to play their role in upholding principles “of respect for individuals, with an abhorrence of violence, and a belief that education can be used to make society better for all”, warning that anyone not behaving appropriately would be subject to the university’s full disciplinary procedures.

When contacted about the latest developments, Royal Holloway Student’s Union said:

“We welcome the swift and decisive action from the College in responding to this matter and hope the Police bring the full extent of the law to bear against any individuals involved in the hate crime that took place on campus last week”

Royal Holloway Student’s Union

This adds to a statement earlier this week where the SU condemned incidents of anti-Semitism on campus, and supported the NUS’s recent statement that “Anti-Semitism masquerading as Palestinian solidarity does nothing to advance liberation for Palestinians”. The SU made clear that there was “no place for Islamophobia or anti-Semitism in our communities”

Student societies have also been quick to respond to the incidents. Posting on their Instagram page, the Jewish Society made clear that incidents of anti-Semitism on campus could not be tolerated.

@royalholloway has garnered a reputation of being a liberal, diverse and welcoming University, yet these images and experiences make Jewish students feel more and more as if that doesn’t apply to them. We, the Jewish society, are urging the University to take a stand that proves that isn’t the case – a stand against such vicious prejudice.

The Islamic Society, also posting on Instagram, condemned anti-Semitic violence on and off campus saying such actions were “racist, regressive, and unacceptable, and causes danger for Jewish people and communities”.

If you have been affected by any of the incidents reported on in this story, support is available. Email the university via [email protected], get in touch with the Wellbeing team, or contact the SU’s Student Advice Centre.

If you have experienced an incident, you can report it anonymously through RH BeHeard, or make a named report to the college through [email protected]. If in danger, contact the emergency services.

Featured Image: Imperial12345 on Wikimedia Commons