Posters in promotion of white supremacist group found in Village
Posters promoting “Identity Evropa”—a white supremacist group that attempts to spread its message primarily on college campuses—were found in and around the Village last Monday.
Students reported the posters to Washington University administrators and through the Bias Report and Support System (BRSS), and after an investigation, the Office of Residential Life removed the posters, which it said were in violation of several ResLife policies.
The Office of Student Affairs and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) are working on identifying the next steps to address the incident, and they have turned to the Washington University Police Department to investigate it further.
“We’re working judiciously with Wash. U. police to review camera footage and [will] try to identify if it was student involvement or something different,” Assistant Director of the CDI Purvi Patel said.
Although the investigation is still ongoing, the Office of Student Affairs does not believe that any students were involved.
“We have no reason to believe any of those posters were put up by anyone in the Washington University community at the present time. Actually, we believe it was somebody not from the Washington University community,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Transition and Engagement Rob Wild said.
The CDI and the Office of Student Affairs are still working to formulate measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, while also maintaining the University’s open campus policy.
“This is a campus where people can walk on and we think that’s important. We want to be a place where members of the community can get on and off campus,” Wild said. “We are going to be vigilant when we believe there are individuals trying to come to our campus to promote hate and intolerance, but we’re not, at the moment, doing any other measures in that area.”
The Office of Student Affairs and the CDI strongly encourage students to utilize the BRSS, which can be found on the CDI’s website, and WUPD to report similar incidents that are not in line with the University’s values.
The CDI is currently working on producing a greater response that educates and engages campus and community members in creating dialogue and support. The center also hopes to provide action planning opportunities for students to resist and organize against messages like the ones “Identity Evropa” promotes.
“Something that’s going to come out from our department is a couple of different opportunities for students to learn more and engage with faculty members in learning about what are white supremacist groups doing, how are they organizing and what are some tangible ways to resist,” Patel said.
For the CDI, the incident serves as a reminder that Washington University is not immune to the larger issues facing the nation.
“We’re not a bubble, we’re not immune from issues of white supremacy, racism, sexism, or any of the other ‘isms’ that affect oppression of marginalized folks. This is an important time to discern what your values are and to become activated and engaged in ways that are in alignment with your values and are against some of those hateful ideologies,” Patel said.