By Tony Wallin and Freddy Brewster
College campuses nationwide targeted with white nationalist posters
On Nov. 1, 2018 unpermitted fliers were hung throughout HSU’s campus stating “it’s okay to be white,” which were part of a nationwide recruitment effort by white nationalist groups. The incident prompted UPD to patrol the campus tearing down the fliers and looking for any of the individuals responsible. The incident went unreported by the university administration and left some students worried and confused as to what was happening.
“At that moment, all of us were on edge and upset that that was going on and we weren’t told about it until the end of the day,” said Laura Garcia, a junior majoring in social work. “I am Mexican and was pretty on edge and scared.”
Garcia gathered over 30 signatures from students who were upset over the lack of attention the incident received and submitted them along with a prepared statement to the University Senate on Nov.13, 2018. Garcia’s statement outlined the group’s frustrations about being kept in the dark about the potential danger to their lives and demands for more safe spaces for students of color.
“They didn’t do enough and they still haven’t told the students about it,” Garcia said. “I feel like we should have got an email like ones that go out when a student dies. I was waiting all that weekend to get an email but didn’t get anything. It is rude that we didn’t get anything. What if something happened?”
According to the minutes from the University Senate meeting on Nov. 13, 2018, University Police Chief Donn Peterson “reported that some fliers… had recently been posted around HSU by a person or persons who, based on their attire, are potentially white nationalist(s) or white supremacist(s).” The fliers, and the lack of university response, are yet another issue on campus where some students of color feel let down by the current administration.
“When the next group got up I realized that this is a recurring topic and issue,” Garcia said. “I knew it was an issue before with Josiah. They said it is an inclusive school, but it is not.”
According to the minutes from the senate meeting, University Senator Jeffrey Dunk, a professor of environmental science and management, acknowledged a Washington Post article that stated “the intent of the fliers is to stir up trouble and recruit white nationalists.” Despite the acknowledgement of the intent of the fliers, HSU administration still failed to notify students, unlike other universities.
CSU San Marcos had similar posters spread across their campus that bore only a logo that represents Identity Evuropa; a white nationalist organization deemed by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group on the “forefront of the racist ‘alt-right’s’ effort to recruit white, college-aged men and transform them into the fashionable new face of white nationalism.”
Margaret Chantung, Associate Vice President of communications at San Marcos, said this wasn’t the first time racist advertisements were found on campus. Chantung said the President of San Marcos made the decision to release a statement across the campus the morning the posters were found to inform their student population of the incident, unlike HSU administration.
“This came across the heel of national events where people had the sense of ‘What is happening here?’ like two shootings of African Americans and the Tree of Life shooting and we were already going to send out a solidarity message about that,” Chantung said. “I know every campus has issues with these occurrences and we aren’t unique to this.”
Chantung said at 8 a.m. the posters were found by a staff member who then brought it up their boss and then University Police. Both the President and University Police at San Marcos felt it necessary to issue out a statement as soon as possible.
“There was a national conversation already happening about hate and bias and for us [issuing a statement] felt like the right thing to do,” Chantung said. “From our President’s perspective it was important to her to condemn the message being spread across the campus. We wanted to make sure the campus knew we condemn anything that promotes racism, antisemitism, violence, homophobia and any kind of discrimination.”