HAF Applauds George Washington University's Decision in Hindu Swastika Case

Washington, D.C. (May 26, 2015) - The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) applauded the George Washington University’s (GW) decision to rescind its interim suspension issued against a student who displayed a Hindu swastika in his fraternity house, and to allow the student to return to campus. Previously, HAF directed an open letter to GW’s President Steven Knapp, asking the University not to expel the student.

“The University’s actions reflect the facts of this case and the efforts by Hindu organizations to educate campus officials about the sacredness of the Hindu swastika,” said Harsh Voruganti, Esq., HAF Associate Director of Public Policy, also an alumnus of the GW law school, who testified on behalf of the student at the disciplinary hearing. “We hope to continue to work with the University and student groups to provide resources on the swastika and to further the dialogue.”

The Hindu swastika was displayed by the student on March 16, and mistaken by another student for a Nazi swastika, a distinct symbol used by the German Nazi party and other hate groups. Although the student withdrew his complaint and law enforcement found no violation, the University proceeded with disciplinary actions against the student, with the possibility of expulsion. A number of Hindu, interfaith, and Jewish groups wrote to President Knapp, educating him on the significance of the swastika for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, and urging him to avoid expelling the student.

“The swastika is one of the most sacred symbols of Hinduism, with a three thousand year history of peace before it was misappropriated by the Nazis,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF Senior Director and Human Rights Fellow. “We wanted to ensure that any Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain student who sought to display the symbol as a part of her faith would not be punished for doing so.”

HAF is currently working with a number of student groups on creating further campus dialogue regarding the symbolism of the swastika, and its significance for students of all faiths.