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'It hits a little close to home': Towson U. students react to news of alleged anti-Semitic hate crime

Towson freshman Julie Steinhorn, 18, reacts to possible hate crime against two members of a Jewish fraternity near the campus. (Libby Soloman/Baltimore Sun Media Group video)

Towson University students said Tuesday they were surprised and disappointed after hearing news of an alleged anti-Semitic hate crime involving students over the weekend.

"It just hits a little close to home," said Julie Steinhorn, 18, a freshman at Towson who is Jewish.

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The incident early Sunday morning involved two members of Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, who were walking home at about 2 a.m. to their house in the unit block of Aigburth Road when two fellow Towson students approached them while shouting ethnic slurs against Jews, according to a Baltimore County police report.

The report states that the assailants then followed the victims to the front of the house and began to punch one of the victims in the face. One of the victims called 911 and responding police officers arrived at the scene and saw the two suspects standing over one of the victims and yelling at him, the report said.

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Police responded to an assault against two members of a Jewish fraternity at Towson University early Sunday morning, who told police their attackers shouted anti-Semitic slurs.

Both suspects appeared intoxicated, the report said. As of Monday afternoon, the victims had not pressed charges against the assailants.

Sean Welsh, a spokesman for Towson University, confirmed on Monday that the assailants and victims are all current students and the incident had been referred to the Office of Student Conduct and the Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity to launch an investigation on the basis that the incident was reported as both assault as well as hate-bias.

On Tuesday, students received an email from Towson University president Kim Schatzel who called the incident "truly deplorable."

Schatzel wrote that Baltimore County police contacted the school's police department Sunday morning to inform them of the incident, and that the school police "immediately reached out to the students involved."

Towson's Hillel released a statement on Facebook Tuesday saying that the Jewish campus organization is "here for all of our students and their families."

Hillel Director Lisa Bodziner estimated about 10 percent of Towson University's student body, or 2,300 students, are Jewish.

According to Sean Welsh, spokesman for Towson University, the following statement was sent out by email this morning to the TU community on behalf of Towson University President Kim Schatzel: (E-mail)

"I didn't expect that to happen for just being Jewish," said Sarah Deckelbaum, a 23-year-old senior, who is also Jewish. She said she is concerned not for her own safety, but for the safety of students who are heavily involved in Jewish life on campus.

The Council on American Islamic Relations released a statement Tuesday condemning the alleged attack.

"Anti-Semitic attacks, like any other attacks motivated by hatred and bigotry, have no place in a civilized society," said the organization's Maryland outreach director, Zainab Chaudry, in a statement.

Alpha Epsilon Pi spokesman Jon Pierce said a security consultant for the fraternity was on campus Tuesday advising students on security measures.

"I was just surprised," said freshman Nicole Barcz, 18, adding later: "Especially in this day and time, I thought people came over this stuff, but I guess not."

"I know my dad used to be made fun of in high school for being Jewish," Steinhorn said. "But I thought it was better now."

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"It does make me nervous," Steinhorn said.



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