A mural at Duke University dedicated to the victims of the shooting of the Pittsburgh Synagogue was vandalized with a swastika Sunday night, school officials confirmed.
The president of the University, Vincent Price, described the defacement of the memorial on the Duke East Campus Bridge as a "cowardly and cowardly act."
"What happens in a public and visible place in Duke should be of great concern to all of us," Price said in a letter to the campus community on Monday.
Students often use the Duke's East Campus Bridge and the tunnel beneath it as a public forum, reports The Associated Press. Last month, Jewish students created a memorial for the shooting of the Pittsburgh synagogue in space, with the names of the 11 victims in black paint. The students also included a Golden Star of David and the phrase "We must build this world from love", in Hebrew and English.
The red swastika was painted directly on the Star of David.
Olivia Levine, a Jewish student who helped paint the original memorial mural, told the Duke student newspaper that she was deeply upset about the vandalism.
"I was devastated, I started crying," Levine told The Chronicle on Monday. "I did not know how to react, because I was very angry about that."
Price said the school "will continue to provide additional security" at Duke's Jewish life center. Administrators also plan to install security cameras near the East Campus Bridge, and Price said that "unfortunately it has become a focus of attention for those who seek to promote hatred and intimidation."
The Chronicle reports that a student found a swastika engraved on a bathroom door in a school building in October. A carved pumpkin with a swastika was found on campus during Halloween.
The red swastika found on the East Campus Bridge this week was painted Monday morning, Duke's public affairs department told HuffPost in an email. The school had no updated information on who was responsible for the vandalism.
The vandalism at Duke comes amid reports of a national increase in anti-Semitic incidents. Swastikas, an ancient symbol co-opted by the Nazis, have been seen on college campuses in recent years and are used to desecrate Jewish cemeteries and synagogues.
The Anti-Defamation League recorded 204 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses in 2017, up from 108 in 2016. The 2017 total included 114 reports of vandalism in colleges and universities.
Jewish Life at Duke, a division of the university's student affairs department, wrote in a Facebook post that some students "feel attacked" after the incident on campus. But the department urged students to stay strong.
"Acts of hate like this seek to instill fear in us and try to divide us. "We are here to tell the funky painter of the swastika, a person who used the cover of darkness to draw some violent graffiti and then flee: we are not afraid of him," the department's Facebook staff wrote. "We are a community of strength, vitality, creativity and love."