4.3.24: A Message From President Helble

A message sent to members of the Lehigh community and shared with Lehigh families.

Dear Members of the Lehigh Community,

This morning, I was notified that a swastika was found etched on the handrail of an interior stairwell in a Lehigh residence hall.

I am profoundly angry. I am saddened. And I am deeply disappointed. The swastika is a symbol of hate. Its entire purpose is to intimidate and sow fear. Such expressions of hatred are absolutely unacceptable, and in stark contrast to what we stand for as a Lehigh community. They not only violate our Principles of Our Equitable Community but also threaten to erode the very essence of our mission.

The swastika was reported by a concerned student resident to a vigilant Gryphon, who immediately reported it to the Lehigh University Police Department. It was promptly removed, and an investigation was immediately initiated. I want to be clear that this incident will be investigated fully, and we ask for the community’s help in identifying those responsible. This behavior is not tolerated at Lehigh and will be met with appropriate consequences including potential prosecution by law enforcement.

Let there be no doubt—acts of hate and intimidation have no place at Lehigh. They do not reflect who we are as a community. They are antithetical to our values and our commitment to creating an environment where every individual feels valued, respected and supported, and knows that they belong. It is imperative that all of us in the campus community—students, faculty, staff—hold ourselves and others accountable. Each of us is responsible for making our campus a place of safety, respect and inclusivity.

This incident is a stark reminder that antisemitism is real and growing, and a reminder of the continuous work we must do to combat hate.

I have faith in the strength and integrity of our Lehigh community. I want to express my full support for members of our community, especially our Jewish students, faculty and staff following this incident.

Together, we reaffirm our dedication to the principles that define us, and continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our campus remains a community of belonging, inclusivity and mutual respect.

I call on each of you to join me in this commitment.

Joseph J. Helble ’82
President, Lehigh University

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