Alexopoulos said with the history behind the swastika, evoking Nazi symbols can be scary as it represents hatred and a desire for violence. She said the fact that someone went out on the field purposely and spent the time to stamp that symbol out shows there was some type of desire to elicit a reaction.
“What they intended may have been a reaction, who knows? But I think that understanding what the swastika means . . . when you go and put something hateful on a wall or in the snow, it’s going to be read as hate.”
Alexopoulos said she was pleased to see the university moved quickly in making the staff and student body aware of the situation and also letting the town and RCMP know about the incident.
“Making sure it’s not isolated is important,” she said, noting that it’s not just a campus issue. “We have to continue to educate people about racism and that it continues to persist.”
People all over the world, including in Canada, continue to experience racism on a daily basis, said Alexopoulos, and current global issues are only contributing to the problem. She said with an increase in neo-Nazi groups worldwide and a rise in racist vigilante, the political climate in the United States over the past year has also added to the troubles. With President Donald Trump spending the last year during the presidential race “courting” some of these racist groups and saying “vile” things against minorities, Alexopoulos said many people around the world who have similar views are becoming emboldened to take action as well.
“When you make those types of statements, you empower those people.”
She said continuing to raise awareness and educating about racism and the history behind it is key to making change happen.
Phil Handrahan, Sackville’s chief administrative officer, said the town was “extremely disappointed to hear about the incident on the weekend.”
“We were advised of the incident by Mount Allison and it’s our understanding that the university is carrying out an internal investigation into this unfortunate event. The university has also been in contact with the RCMP. These racist actions in no way represent the community of Sackville or our corporate organization, and are unacceptable,” he stated via email.