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By Associated press
A college board member from Pennsylvania apologized and announced his resignation Tuesday after a student found a picture of the 1980 yearbook in which he was wearing a Nazi uniform suit.
Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs said in an e-mail to the university community that Bob Garthwait had decided to retire from the board of directors. He is a college financial donor and helped found the Garthwait Leadership Center on campus.
A student took the picture to the attention of a faculty member last week and the administration was contacted.
The student newspaper, the Gettysburgian, has published an image of the photo, which depicts Garthwait in military attire with a swastika armband and four other people, including at least one who also appears to be wearing a military suit. They stood next to razor barbed wire drawings and someone trying to climb to a fence.
The photo surfaced several weeks after the disclosure of a photo on the page of the Virginia Governor's medical yearbook, Ralph Northam, which showed one person in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan dress. The state attorney general, Mark Herring, then came to say that he had dressed in blackface at the university.
The Riggs e-mail quotes a message from Garthwait saying that he was dressing up as a Nazi soldier in a POW camp as part of a thematic evening of the night. TV show "Hogan's Heroes" in a fraternity.
Garthwait, who did not return a message to his workplace, stated that as a sophomore he "was not fully aware of the meaning of these symbols ".
"My sincerest hope is that our current students learn from my poor judgment 38 years ago and be more reflective of the impact of their actions on others," said Garthwait. E-mail from Riggs. "I offer my sincere apologies to the entire community of Gettysburg College and I humbly ask for your forgiveness."
Student Hannah Labovitz, a second-year history student in Pittsburgh, said another student had shown her the picture last week. The next day she discovered that Garthwait was the person in the photo wearing a swastika armband.
Labovitz stated that the resignation of the Garthwait Board of Directors showed that he understood "how bad the situation is".
"It was not only him – it was the school that had allowed it to be in the directory and there was no complaint when its publication was allowed" Labovitz said Tuesday.
Riggs said in an email addressed to the university community that she had learned the picture Sunday and had met with students who had updated her on Monday.
"Anti-Semitism is clearly at odds with our values as an institution today, just as it did when this photo was taken," said Riggs, encouraging discussions with the board of directors about it.
Gettysburg College's Judaic Studies professor, Stephen Stern, to whom the photo was shown by Labovitz last week, urged the school to return Garthwait's donations.
"The more we keep the money, the more the story becomes conflictual and long," Stern said.