PISCATAWAY, NJ - An anonymous vandal scrawled anti-immigration graffiti on the walls of the Interfaith Meditation Room at the Rutgers University Busch Campus Center in Piscatway just before Christmas.
One of the messages read “No Immigrants Aliens” and the other read “Dear Mr. T: Build the wall! Now.”
The graffiti was discovered on December 21 by a Rutgers affiliate who declined to be named, out of fear for her own safety, according to Nafisa Tanjeem, a Rutgers Class of 2017 doctoral student.
"She opened the door and turned on the lights and saw their graffiti," Tanjeem said. "Someone went to that room between December 20th and 21 and write it, and my friend didn't know what to do."
The friend hadn't seen the grafitti on December 20, Tanjeem added.
Tanjeem said that once she became aware of the graffiti, she reported the it on December 22 to the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities at Rutgers, as well as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Felicia McGinty.
They in turn responded to Tanjeem within an hour, saying that the Rutgers police were alerted to the graffiti and removed it. She also filed an online bias report.
Many of the students who use the prayer room are Muslim, Tanjeem said. She enrolled at Rutgers in 2010, before the prayer rooms were installed. Many of her Muslim friends were very happy that the prayer rooms were set up.
Beforehand, they would use their own offices or a quiet corner of an academic building or student center to pray. Tanjeem said she felt the graffiti was meant to target Muslim students, many of whom use these new prayer rooms.
“My friend, she wears the hijab,” said Tanjeem. “She’s really scared, she’s like ‘I don’t want to report my name, you can look at me and tell I’m Muslim. I don’t want to be racially targeted'.”
Tanjeem added: “This is not a discrete event, this is a continuation of the things that have happened.”
Earlier in December, white supremacist, anti-immigration flyers were posted around Rutgers campus and downtown New Brunswick.
Shortly before Halloween, swastikas were graffitied on the Stonier Hall dorm near one of the dining halls at Rutgers.
A month earlier, white supremacist recruitment flyers were posted across campus.
TAPinto New Brunswick is partnering with ProPublica to track hate crimes in the region. The partnership is part of a nationwide project to track and report bias incidents across the country.